Farmington firefighters gathered under the flag just before midnight Wednesday to welcome home one of their own.
Staff Sgt. John Krause, a U.S. Army Medic and lieutenant in the Tunxis Hose Fire Department returned from a second tour of duty in Afghanistan. His plane arrived at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The firefighters got word just a day before and brothers Michael and Patrick Vibert spread the word to put together a welcome party for Krause. Tunxis Hose trucks lined the street in front of the driving range on Route 4 and Farmington Volunteer Fire Department hoisted the enormous flag from the ladder engine.
Below, dozens of friends waited excitedly.
“We’re just as excited to have him back as he is to be coming home,” said Brett Baio, of the Farmington Fire Department. “We’re proud of him but no one was happy to see him go. We were nervous, scared and excited at the same time. Now the crowd’s back together again.”
Conor Hogan said that part of the town was missing with Krause overseas.
“We missed him the past year,” Hogan said. “He’s an asset around the firehouse. He’s the guy you can count on to be there when you need him. He’s a brother and a friend.”
In addition to serving his country while in Afghanistan, Krause also found a way to help the people in the community where he was stationed by holding blanket drives.
“He’s done a lot over there – more than just serve as a medic,” said Tunxis Hose Fire Chief Brian Hunter. “His outreach and the work he’s done for the people there... he went above and beyond but it’s good to have him home.”
Krause, who grew up in a Farmington fire service family, joined Tunxis Hose with his brother Paul when the pair was still in high school, and technically too young to sign up. But the department made an exception for the twins because they had already enlisted and John headed to basic training not long after.
From there, Krause took a job in New York and joined the New York Fire Department. That’s when he was deployed for his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. After a year there, Krause returned safely home and settled back into the Tunxis Hose Fire Department.
But he put his name on a list, saying he would be willing to go back if they needed him. Not long after, he was called and was headed back to Afghanistan.
“We were surprised he was leaving. He said we had to talk, kind of called a big meeting and then soon he left,” said Patrick Vibert, who numbers among the many at the celebration who regard Krause as family.
But no one was more relieved to have him home than his mother, Felicity Crowell.
“This was my fourth deployment in five years. I think I’ve had enough,” Crowell said. “But it’s in him so if he thinks somebody needs him, he’ll go.”
Crowell said she’s proud of her son, of his service to his country and of their extended family of firefighters.
“Proud is not even the word. And to see everybody come out here for him is just awesome. It’s a true brotherhood.”