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‘Fire Chief for the Day’ World War II vet has a dream come true

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EUREKA, MO – Wednesday a World War II veteran had a dream come true. For his first 97 years on this earth, it's been quite a ride for Paul Varsalona. So, it was fitting that he got a ride on a big red fire truck.

He`s 97-years-old and a World War II veteran.  He saw the last cattle drive from Texas to Kansas City as a kid.  So, he has some amazing history.

“That`s the way the depression worked.  You didn`t have a jam sandwich which was two pieces of bread jammed together.  We didn`t even have that.”

It was on a visit to a friend in a nursing home that Eureka Fire Chief Greg Brown first met Paul Varsalona.

And he knew right away he would have to give up his title at least temporarily.

Wednesday, they named Varsalona Fire Chief for Eureka Fire District for the day and he got a ride on the ladder truck.

He was part of the allied forces in North Africa when Rommel surrendered 207,000 troops German troops.

“Rommel surrendered to us 207,000 troops.  Can you imagine?  Well never see that again, I don`t think so.  That was a sight to really really see.”

The number of World War II veterans is smaller every day, and they`re going away quickly, so when we get a chance to honor them and learn from them I think it`s important.

“Do a lot of exercise.  The minute you feel a little sick go to the doctor.  Don`t be afraid to go because you`ll keep yourself in good health.  Good exercise and you`ll live a long time.”

“You heard the chief, exercise and maybe one day you too might get a ride on a big red fire truck.”