A Heartfelt Salute to a Fellow Avid Outdoorsman and Truly Great American!

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II


Have you ever taken a long-distance hike? One that lasts weeks, traversing hundreds of miles, crossing all sorts of terrain in all kinds of weather. Hikers on the famous Appalachian Trail and other long-distance foot paths will tell you they meet a variety of interesting people along their journey who they have the opportunity to walk alongside of for a period, share meals with, and swap stories with; all while they each shouldered their individual loads on their own journeys. Thinking about it, that is a tremendous analogy for our lives in general and the individual journeys we’re each walking day-by-day. None of us walk the exact same path through life, but we are blessed to have fellow travelers walk alongside us for a period. In the military, where I spent most of my adult life, those fellow travelers became “a band of brothers (and sisters)” who you shared common experiences, common hardships, and common challenges with; knowing you had each other’s backs when times got tough, sometimes in short order. I’ve learned that same “band of brothers (and sisters)” mentality pervades the first-responder community; so those in law enforcement, the fi re service, and emergency medical services, know exactly what I’m talking about and the importance of having each other’s backs through tough times. Maybe that’s why I became such good friends with Daniel Joseph Egnacheski, Jr., or as many knew him, “Big Dan”. Dan retired from the Fire Department at the 910th Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in nearby Vienna, OH in 2013, after completing 26-years as a Department of the Air Force civilian employee and ascending to the esteemed rank of Captain. He was highly respected in the fi re department and across the air station for his technical expertise, work ethic, and willingness to train others. I first met Dan in Feb. 2014 when, as recent retirees, both sharing a passion for the outdoors, we accepted part-time positions as Pro Staff Members for Fin Feather Fur Outfitters that was coming to Boardman, OH. Many Weekly Bargain Bulletin readers probably crossed paths with “Big Dan” Egnacheski at The Fin, since he was the store’s reloading expert and very capably assisted customers at the fi rearms counter. I quickly learned that Dan and I shared an equally vibrant love of God, Family, and Country that permeated all aspects of life. He treasured his roles as a husband, father, grandfather, co-worker, friend, and brother in Christ; and he quickly earned my admiration, trust, and respect. I found that Dan and I shared many common interests: hunting, fi shing, gardening, and cooking; and the fact that he grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Hills and I had worked in Pittsburgh for several years, gave us so much in common to talk about. Like my maternal grandfather, Dan was one of those guys who I wish I had one-tenth of the technical knowledge they do, since he worked as a contractor on the side and performed home inspections. He was a capable carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, and just about anything else. Within the past year, Dan helped me out on a bathroom renovation and I was able to assist him on his son’s home improvement. I’ll always treasure having the opportunity to fi sh with Dan multiple times on Pymatuning Reservoir and hearing his many stories, like hunting deer, turkey, and coyotes near his home in Lowellville, OH; his emergency response to the May 31, 1985 tornado outbreak across NE OH and NW PA; and his experiences on the 910th Hazmat Team across Trumbull County. “Big Dan” started his life journey on February 28, 1957 and completed it on August 5, 2019 at age 62. If you want to know who Dan was, just listen to Tracy Lawrence’s 2007 country hit, “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. That song could have been written about “Big Dan” because he was always the guy who showed up with a “big old heart” for a lot of people. I consider it a privilege that I could walk along life’s path for a few years in Dan Egnacheski’s presence and I know a lot of other people feel the same way! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019

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