By Charles J. Haymond, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 19, 2021
Ryan N. Berney, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter, poses for a photo during the American Legion National Firefighter of the year award event Jan. 20, at Washington, District of Columbia. Berney competed against 49 other nominees for the win. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)
Ryan N. Berney, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter, receives the 2020 American Legion National Firefighter of the year award at an event in Washington D.C. January 20. In 2019, Berney also won the Offutt Air Force Base and Emergency Services Firefighter of the Year, Firefighter of the Year for Bellevue American Legion Martin Graves post 399 and the Nebraska American Legion Firefighter/Emergency Medical Services of the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)
Ryan N. Berney, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter, received the 2020 American Legion National Firefighter of the Year award for his accomplishments in his firefighter career field.
The NFY award is presented to certified firefighters or firefighter officers who are also members of their city and county fire departments. This also includes Emergency Medical Technicians or those serving in other capacities in the department.
“I honestly feel very blessed,” Berney said. “I’m honored to receive such a high award, especially with so many deserving other recipients.”
Berney is accustomed to winning the award. In 2019, Berney won fire service awards that included the Offutt Air Force Base and Emergency Services Firefighter of the Year, Firefighter of the Year for Bellevue American Legion Martin Graves post 399 and the Nebraska American Legion Firefighter / Emergency Medical Services of the year.
“Amongst Mr. Berney’s other fine traits, he is also humble and was the first to state that he did not win this recognition alone and that the whole fire team was responsible for his outstanding achievement,” said David Eblin, 55th Civil Engineer Squadron installation fire chief. “Winning at the National level is unprecedented as the member competes against 49 other state competitors. To be singled out as the ‘Best of the Best’ simply defines Mr. Berney and his work ethic.”
Berney never got complacent with just winning awards. Berney wanted to express a pattern of good works that would exemplify what type of person he wants to become.
“Anyone who receives awards should feel the need to increase all their time and efforts in doing good for one another,” Berney said. “I was always told that no good dead goes unnoticed and it takes a bigger person to step up and do the right thing, even if the odds are stacked against him.”
Berney knows about putting service before self when it comes to life over property. While deployed in the Army, Berney helped in two separate Blackhawk helicopter accidents. The first was a crash and the second incident was a tire explosion. At Offutt, Berney helped secure a floodwater containment boom during the catastrophic flood.
Although Berney has won many awards and assisted in various accidents throughout his career, Berney encourages his fellow firefighters that they are all in this together.
“I would encourage all my fellow team members that we are in this together,” Berney said. “Integrity, honesty, and being trustworthy is what molds a strong team together. I feel like this award should be accepted by all the members of my shift and fire department.”