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By e. max henGst, captain, Fs 76-a O

n January 26, 2012 approx- imately 100 friends, fam- ily and coworkers gathered

together at the Los Angeles Police Academy facilities to celebrate the thirty-nine year career of Edward Banda Junior. Many members of Battalion Five

were in attendance. The Master of Ceremonies was Battalion Chief Ste- phen J. Ruda. Having been the face of the LAFD as the Public Informa- tion Officer for many years, Chief Ruda was as smooth as silk. Many members past and present

of Battalion Five were in attendance. Many were and are legends on the department. We were reminded that a legend in his own right, John Squire, had passed away this same week. A prayer was said by Department Chaplain George Negrete, and

after enjoying a fine meal, the ceremonies continued with gifts and words of admirations from family and friends. Ed Banda was born in 1945. While in school he lettered in foot-

ball and baseball. In his famous inauguration speech given by John F Ken- nedy, he reminded us “Ask not what your country can do for you – Ask what you can do for your country.” Captain Banda most certainly has lived up to those words. His entire adult life has been in public service. In 1966 he joined the Navy and became a submariner on the U.S.S. Wahoo. In 1971 he was recruited onto the El Monte Fire Department. In 1973 the opportu- nity arose and Ed joined the LAFD. He served as a fireman, a chief’s aid, a chief’s adjutant (that’s a staff assistant to you who weren’t born yet) and then as a Captain I for 27 years. Retired member David Lowe, who represented the Relief Asso-

ciation, presented the retirement badge. He told the story of the time when he and Ed were serving at old 27’s. Apparently Dave was driving the squad while Ed was tethered and riding the tailboard. A car hit the squad. After the squad came to a stop, Dave ran around the rear to find Ed dangling in the air by his tether. Retired B/C Roger Gillis presented Ed with his “Certificate of

Service.” B/C Chris Kawai presented the Personal Record Book. He stated, “Ed was a product of the greatest generation. He has one son who is cur- rently serving in the Navy, another who is an officer on another fire depart- ment and Mike who is currently serving on the LAFD.”

photos By william thost, arson section Kawai reminded all of us that when Ed joined the LAFD, Nixon

was president and the annual income was $10,000. Looking through Ed’s PRB, there were legends that certified him such as Captain Barney Nipp. Chief Kawai concluded that Ed’s PRB represents trust, loyalty and leader- ship to his family and crew. Retired B/C Chief Craig Yoder presented Ed with his 39 year ser-

vice pin. In fact Yoder tested to get onto the LAFD with Ed. Retired Captain Richard Barrowski got up and said a few words since he served with Ed at old Fire Station 41. UFLAC President Pat McOscar presented Ed with an axe and

shield plaque. He described Ed not only as a good public servant but a good union member as well. “Ed was always at meetings working for the greater good of the members.” Ed also served on the Bargaining Unit. Ed’s son Keith was joined by his brothers Mike and Danny as

they presented an axe head that has been chromed and engraved with the ranks and nicknames that Ed has endured through the years. His daugh- ter Trish remained in the audience. One particular name, “Edward Scissor Hands,” he earned after he proved his agricultural skills or should we say lack of skills on a plant at Fire Station 76. Then there were ‘All Night Eddy” and “Mad Dog Banda.” But if you want to know the why, we’ll let you ask him.

Ed’s crew Fred Martinez, Mike Marquez, Gilbert Quintana, An-

drew Ramierez and Alex Medina said a few kind words and presented their retired leader a plaque bearing an older model of a captain’s helmet and a red ice chest situated on a cart that looked like Engine 76. Kudos to his crew for putting a successful retirement dinner together, as well as Frank Martinez ram-rodding the whole thing. And finally it was Captain I Eduard Banda Jr’s turn to talk. He

thanked his lovely wife Gale, his family and friends for putting the event together. He remarked that some of his experiences were indescribable. He stated that he was impressed with some of the people he served with, one being a chief he drove, Frank Fasmer. He was impressed that Frank was a fighter pilot in World War II and that he felt privileged to drive him. Another was Chief Schneider, who also happened to be in attendance, and that he learned from Schneider’s calm under fire and applied what he learned to his own captain skills. Back in the day, Ed would have to respond to a working fire from 7th and Santa Fe to the El Sereno district because they would be the closest. He closed saying that he was appreciative for the fact that he was the last man standing in his class of 1973 when 28 graduated from the LAFD tower, a major accomplishment. Finally, with some tears, Ed bid farewell and was given a stand-

ing ovation from all in attendance. Congratulations Ed, and hoping you have a long and healthy retirement.

April 2012 • 47

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