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Staff Sgt. Gregg Magi poses at Ali Base, Iraq, with a mural remembering the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at Ground Zero trying to help victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Magi is a firefighter with the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and deployed from N.Y. Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing.

Staff Sgt. Gregg Magi poses at Ali Base, Iraq, with a mural remembering the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at Ground Zero trying to help victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Magi is a firefighter with the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron and deployed from N.Y. Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing. (Melissa Phillips / U.S. Air Force)

ALI BASE, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Gregg Magi’s firefighting career has taken several twists.

A member of the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Wing, Magi is a firefighter with the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron in southern Iraq. Last week, he was promoted to lieutenant in his non-military job with the New York City fire department.

Along with a few co-workers, Magi listened to the promotion ceremony via telephone at Ali Base, formerly known as Tallil Air Base. He then took his oath via telephone.

“I’m going to have to learn how to be a lieutenant,” the 42-year-old from Stony Point, N.Y., said in a phone interview Friday. “It’s almost the same thing as a staff sergeant in a fire department.”

Magi, who served in the Navy for four years in the 1980s, joined the Air National Guard about a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was working elsewhere in the city that day and his crew didn’t arrive at the World Trade Center buildings until after they had collapsed.

He said he’s one of more than 100 members of the city’s fire department currently serving in the theater. He said he volunteered to go to Iraq and credited two supervisors, Chief Master Sgt. John Cinquemani and Master Sgt. Charles Burke, for helping to make it happen.

Magi has less than a month left to serve in Iraq. He’ll then head to an academy for six weeks before taking on his new duties in the Big Apple.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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