FIRST PHOTO: Retiring Kahului Airport Fire Chief Eugene Perry leads the way during his last fire training exercise Friday morning. Family, friends and airport personnel turned out to watch the exercise at the Kahului Airport training facility, which all came as a surprise to the chief.
SECOND PHOTO: After the fire was extinguished, Perry's wife, Lynne, walked out onto the tarmac to present him with a lei as firefighters applauded. "I didn't expect all this," Chief Perry said. "I came in quiet, and I expected to go out quiet. I just thought it was me and my guys." Lynne Perry said seeing her husband go toe-to-toe with a wall of towering flames was an eye-opening experience. "I've never seen this before," she said. "I was really scared for him. I was worried, but I know he loves this job." Understanding how much his father enjoyed being a firefighter, son Joshua Perry said it was a moving experience to see him go out in style. "It brought a tear to my eye," Joshua Perry said. Eugene Perry retires after 32 1/2 years as an airport firefighter, serving at Kahului, Lanai, Molokai and back to Kahului, where he became chief four years ago. He said it wasn't unusual for him to be in the middle of the action. "I go in with the boys all the time," he said. When asked what he will miss most, Perry was quick to answer: "The people I work with, the challenges that come with being a fire chief. I work for the men, for their safety and their health. I talk to them about the importance of family."
THIRD PHOTO: Retiring Kahului Airport Fire Chief Eugene Perry
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo