Commander, Submarine Group Two

GROTON, Conn. - Culinary Specialist First Class (SS/DV) Allen Williford
performs water rescue training at the Naval Submarine Base New London
pool on Feb. 16. Photo by Lt. j.g. Kevin Shanley/RELEASED

  CSG2 Sailors Serve Nation by Day, Volunteer their Off-Duty Hours with Local Fire Department

LEDYARD, Conn. – Two submariners stationed in New London are leading by example in their off-duty time by volunteering at a local fire company in Ledyard.

Culinary Specialist First Class (SS/DV) Allen Williford, Commander, Submarine Group 2 flag culinary specialist, volunteers with the Gales Ferry Fire Department on average about 16 hours a month and underwent required training on Feb. 16 to maintain his skillset.

“The qualification process with the fire company is similar to submarine qualification procedures, in that, you are required to be knowledgeable on every fire truck the fire company maintains,” said Williford.

The two-hour training he and other volunteer firefighters recently participated in at Naval Submarine Base New London’s pool consisted of water rescue.

“We are training in water rescue just in the off chance a car descends off of a bridge and is submerged or if anyone is trapped or falls through the ice. We will have the training to assist,” said Williford.

He added that every volunteer has to understand what the capabilities are for each fire truck and when and where they might be needed.

Lt. William Mangan, who recently completed the Submarine Officers Advanced Course at the Naval Submarine School is reporting to USS Helena (SSN 725), understands how vital volunteering is to the local community. Mangan has been volunteering with the Gales Ferry Fire Company for the past three years. He hopes to continue to volunteer in his local community when he arrives in Norfolk.  

During his lengthy volunteer efforts in Connecticut, he has received an EMT certification and a firefighter certification through the State of Connecticut.

“When I grew up I was always involved in volunteer efforts and during the past three years while on shore duty I have had the opportunity to help out the local community,” said Mangan. ‘Everyone who volunteers at the fire company devotes hundreds of hours of volunteer time and enjoys every minute of it.”

Mangan, who has a four-year old son said he enjoys his father’s volunteer efforts and at the same time is receiving a valuable lesson on giving back to the community.

“It’s always good to help the community and do a little bit extra where you can,” said Mangan.

Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico praised the efforts of all volunteers like Williford and Mangan and remarked on what inherent value they provide to the local community.

"Volunteers in our community really make our community work," said Rodolico.

Williford has consistently volunteered with the Gales Ferry Fire Company for the past five months and has learned a variety of other skillsets. In the course of the other training opportunities, he has gained awareness of tool use and recognition; familiarity with the trucks; and SCBA wear and use.

“They have a lot of tools and you need to know how to use them in every situation they might be called for,” said Williford.

Chief Anthony Saccone, Sr., Chief of the Gales Ferry Fire Company guides Williford, Mangan and the other volunteers, many who are active-duty military, and reflected on their dedication to the nation, and to their local community.

“Naval personnel not only are the most vital asset of our country, but locally,” said Saccone. “We at the Gales Ferry Fire Company depend on their volunteerism and skills in the support public safety in the Town of Ledyard.”

Williford said his interest in volunteering with the fire company evolved after encouragement from his family.

“The Gales Ferry Fire Company is all based on volunteer support and the community relies heavily on their commitment,” said Williford. “My wife took my kids to the fire house and she knew that I had been looking to volunteer my time in the community.”

Williford added that he continues to volunteer with the Gales Ferry Fire Company because they don’t require a minimum commitment, but rather accept my assistance and support when my schedule allows it.

Since volunteering, he has responded to two car vehicle collisions and other related distress calls.

At the end of the day, Williford is definitely making an impact to the community, his fellow Sailors and especially with his two sons, ages three and four.

“My sons tell their friends that their dad is a Sailor and a firefighter,” said Williford. “It makes me glad that I can be someone that they can look up to.”