By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
A Crescent City man who has fought major wildland fires in more than a dozen states has retired from firefighting.
Pete Villa has served more than 35 years in the U.S. Forest Service. His most recent post is as battalion commander on the Six Rivers National Forest.
"I will miss the Forest Service camaraderie with many friends throughout our country," Villa said.
He has fought fires throughout his home state and the United States, including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Mississippi and Louisiana.
He also helped in the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina.
"There is nothing like the challenge of wildland fires," Villa said. "Predicting their paths and fighting to protect homes, wildlife and other natural resources leaves no doubt of God's power and mercy."
He remembers times when others were hurt or lost, but applies the memories to the future, not in grief.
"Memories of them are what keep us going," Villa said. "It's a great life with great people."
Villa was born in Mauna loa, Hawaii. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1968, served during the Vietnam War and became a Hull Technician.
He left active duty in 1974 and went to college to major in Forestry and Fire Management.
He began seasonal work with the Forest Service, but rejoined the Navy as a reservist to serve through Desert Storm, the War on Terrorism and the War in the Middle East.
He retired from the military in March 2006.
He is married to Paula (Jack) and is father to Glenda, born in 1981, who graduated last year from Humboldt State University.
He also raised two step-children whom he supported through college, and is raising two grandchildren.