An Officer and a Gentleman
|By G. Shannon|
|If there were a movie made about Lt. Gene Ahern this would have to be the title. I first knew Gene as an outstanding athlete at Lincoln High. Softball, basketball or football, he could do it all but what made him stand out, in my mind, was the fact that he was so modest about his ability and he had what we referred to as the Elvis look. He was clean cut, soft spoken and had never been in trouble, either in school, or with the law and he was extremely polite, so he stood out from the group. I wished I was more like him. Gene was just a pleasure to be around and never had a bad word to say about anyone even his buddy Jolting Joe Mazeau. When I look at Genes devoted family, Rose, his beautiful daughters, his brother Jim and his parents, they are a mirror of who he is. One can see the gentleness and caring for others. When Gene came home, after serving his country in Viet Nam, he started his career with the S.F.P.D. He was the only cop I knew who instead of arresting a guy like Big Jake, the terror of the Sunset district; he pulled him over, and then had him to his house, to help him get his car back.
Gene came in the F.D., was promoted to lieutenant and went to the tower to train new recruits. It didnt take long for the administration to discover he was there to help the rest of us jakes along. When the Fire Department became aware of what Lt. Ahern could do, at the tower, with malcontents and misfits, they sent him to Station Nine, where this guy Lonnie had assembled the dirty dozen and was praying on officers and even chiefs. Well Gene had his work cut out for him and I went down there to lend him a hand. Lt. Ahern had what was known as the biggest baddest, non-housework doing crew in the City, dynamite at fires but a little unruly around the house. The only clean room in that joint was the weight room and the van, thanks to Lonnies hard work. There was Big Dog, Big Bob, Lonnie, Gerry one, Gerry two and Bobby Lopez, who Gene didnt worry much about because he was always sprung. The average size of Genes crew was six foot two inches and two hundred and twenty pounds. There arent many crews around like that anymore, and there are few lieutenants like Gene Ahern, just dont play cards with him. Gene was never happier to see anyone in his life as when Captain Moriarty showed up at Station Nine, Gene had an ally. He and Mort had a plan. They took it out on us guys out in back on the basketball court. They werent gentlemen out there, and the men took a beating. It got so bad; Gene had to send to Two Truck, to get another rules and tools firefighter to help him out. Big Steve showed up and things fell in line in a hurry no T.V till after housework was Steves motto, it was mops and scrub brushes. Norris, Cohn, Fitz, Batanides, Alexander, Fewell and Quinn along with Vogels and Lindleys crew, finally felt the pressure was off the other watches, there were a few bad boys there too.
It was a real pleasure to work for Gene and to know the guy in charge, at the big one, was as competent, cool, calm and knowledgeable as they come. Lt. Ahern never had to raise his voice to raise a ladder, the guys wanted to do the right thing for Gene as he always did for us, he never made a bad call and the guys loved him. If Lt. Ahern asked for something, which wasnt often, if there was a dissenter in the group, Genes crew let him know how they felt about Gene in a hurry. Im afraid now weve lost Gene to golf, does he have to be good at everything? I feel it was a privilege to serve under Lt. Ahern and to call him my boss, my friend and a guy I could go to with a problem. I would follow him anywhere. They dont come any finer than Gene. I hope he enjoys fifty more years of golf and family. He earned it. He is a true officer and a gentleman. I salute him from the bottom of my heart, from the members of Station Nine and the Firefighters, for whom he served with such dedication, on their Executive Board for six years. Thank God for blessing us all with Gene Ahern.