Fond du Lac firefighter receives hero’s sendoff

Lt. Shawn Kneeland receives a Fond du Lac Fire Department flag prior to his deployment overseas
Lt. Shawn Kneeland receives a Fond du Lac Fire Department flag prior to his deployment overseas

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) – A firefighter who has served the Fond du Lac community for the past nine years is preparing to serve his country in a third deployment overseas. But, before Lt. Shawn Kneeland leaves, his department wanted to give him a proper sendoff.

Fond du Lac Fire Department Lieutenant Shawn Kneeland knew this day was coming. As a Master Sergeant with the Wisconsin Air National Guard, he’s been called to serve overseas with the Air Force.

“I’m going to be doing firefighting,” Kneeland says. “It’s the same thing that I do here. We deal with aircraft, military aircraft, structures and we still do HAZMAT and all of that other stuff as well.”

While the job is the same, the setting will be different and that’s why the Fond du Lac Fire Department honored Kneeland with a sendoff ceremony.

According to Fire Chief Peter O’Leary, “Obviously the sacrifice he makes as a firefighter is huge in and of itself, but to go for his third deployment with the military, voluntarily, is a huge thing and we want to make sure that he knows we’re thinking about him. We’re not going to forget about him and we want him to know that we want him to come home safely.”

Sentiments shared by the city manager, a veteran himself. Joe Moore says, “He’s a member of the city team that’s getting ready to deploy. We’ve got to be here for him and his family and the faith he’s showing us with his service, we got to reflect back to him with our faith to him and his family while he’s gone.”

This isn’t Kneeland’s first deployment, but it’s the first time he’s had to leave a child behind. As the Chief handed Kneeland a department flag to carry with him during his deployment, he reassured him, his family would be well taken care of.

Kneeland appreciates the support. He said, “It meant a lot. It shows that there’s a lot of support in the community and for my chief and my fellow employees, there’s a lot of guys that came here on their off duty to wish me luck so it shows that there’s a lot of support still, even though these conflicts have been going on for about fifteen years now.”

Lt. Kneeland has two more shifts at the fire department before he begins his military duty. He will be back to work next summer.