Fire chief’s son comes home from Afghanistan

Mercer Island Fire Chief Chris Tubbs’ son, Cpl. Zach Tubbs, returned from Afghanistan this summer. - Susan Burchard/Contributed Photo
Mercer Island Fire Chief Chris Tubbs’ son, Cpl. Zach Tubbs, returned from Afghanistan this summer.
— image credit: Susan Burchard/Contributed Photo

When Zach Tubbs returned from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, he brought home the flag that he had flown over Camp Dwyer, Helmand Province.

The 21-year-old Marine presented the flag as a gift to the Mercer Island Fire Department with a certificate of authenticity noting where it was flown.

Tubbs, the son of Mercer Island Fire Chief Chris Tubbs, serves in the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 4th Platoon, Echo Company.

“The unit that he is assigned to does not normally go to Afghanistan,” Chris Tubbs said. “But a part of the unit that he is in was detailed for a different job over there, so he was in with that group.”

Zach Tubbs, an Eastlake High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps two years ago and volunteered to go to Afghanistan, where he served from March through July.

“I wanted an opportunity to serve my part in fighting the war on terror,” Tubbs wrote to the Reporter.

As an “Amtracker,” he drove and worked on amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs). He provided security for convoys and the leaders of his unit, and operated MRAPs — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected antipersonnel vehicles.

On leave after five months in Afghanistan, Tubbs came home to Sammamish — and Mercer Island.

“The best part of coming home was getting to see all my family and friends,” Tubbs said. “Their prayers and words of encouragement were a great source of support during my deployment.”

He visited the Mercer Island fire station last week to reconnect with some of the firemen and present the flag.

“His extended family is the Mercer Island Fire Department,” Chris Tubbs said. “A lot of the guys — they’ve watched Zach grow up, and they’ve been sort of surrogate parents … the fire community is a very close community in that way.”

Zach has ridden the Island fire trucks, and celebrated many birthdays in the fire station.

“When he was 7 or 8, he told my wife and I, he didn’t want another birthday party in the fire station,” Chris Tubbs remembered.

There was a time, Chris said, when Zach thought he could be a firefighter. Their family has a background in military, fire and police service — uncles, aunts and cousins have served and are serving. Zach’s grandfather was a career Navy officer.

Tubbs is continuing his family’s tradition of public service in his own way.

When Tubbs went back to Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Aug. 23, he returned as a corporal, a new rank he achieved while overseas. But his greatest pride while deployed, he said, was serving alongside his fellow Marines.


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