Broken Arrow Father Joins Son, Becomes Newest Firefighter
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - Firefighters consider themselves a family, and the Broken Arrow Fire Department gained 12 new family members on Friday, including one father-son duo.
After six months of training, the 12 new firefighters have earned their hard hats and can't wait to get to work on Monday. But the journey to becoming a firefighter was much different for one of them.
Inspired by his son, former paramedic, Johnathan Graham reached his goal and became one of Broken Arrow's newest firefighters. He received his pin from his son, Tulsa firefighter Anthony Castorena.
"He's always wanted to be a firefighter. It's just something he hadn't pursued," Castorena said.
Graham said, "I wanted to do this practically my whole life. Didn't think that I could."
Graham is 42, just three years short of the cut-off to become a firefighter. Seven years ago he got up the nerve to apply.
"I applied with my son. Actually, he beat me out," Graham said. "It was heartbreaking. I wanted him to make it so bad, and I wanted to make it so bad."
Graham swallowed any pride he had and pinned his son at his cadet graduation several years back.
"When I pinned him, he was like, 'you'll be next,'" Graham said.
And on Friday, it was his turn.
"Never give up on your dreams, and he hasn't, and now he's finally here," Castorena said.
But it wasn't easy. During the journey he received an unflattering nickname.
"G-pa," said Graham. "Like grandpa."
He's not even the oldest cadet, there are two others his age.
"Those guys are machines. They were beating most of the other guys. I just try to stay in the middle of the pack," Graham said.
But it's hard not to recognize him as a leader of both of his families, a beaming reminder to always follow your dreams.
The cut off to become a firefighter in Oklahoma is 45, not because of age, but because it takes 20 years on the job to get your pension.