Decorated Marine promoted to fire captain


Five years before joining the Kearny Fire Department, its newest captain was in the middle of a huge, potentially dangerous military action.

As a member of the 23rd U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit, Douglas J. Boyle – who was sworn in as captain April 25 – was a participant in “Operation Eastern Exit.”

That’s the code name assigned to the military evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in early January 1991, as the country was being torn apart by civil war.

“We were the closest Marine unit to the area at the time,” recalled Boyle, who had enlisted in the Corps “right out of [Kearny] high school,” and was trained as an anti-tank assault gunner.

Having been deployed to the amphibious assault ship USS Guam (LPH-9) in the Northern Arabian Sea, Boyle said, on Jan. 5, 1991, “They put us on a couple of CH-53E choppers to secure the embassy compound” and prepare for the evacuation.

During the flight to Somalia – a distance Boyle reckoned at more than 800 miles – “we had to refuel over water. It was the first time that was done. We knew if it didn’t work, we were going down.”

According to a Wikipedia account of the maneuver, during the first of two mid-air refuelings, “a pipe burst on one of the helicopters, dousing soldiers in fuel and nearlyforcing a return to the Guam …” But the mission, ultimately, was successful.

As the 51 Marines and nine Navy SEALs were landing, Wikipedia noted, “a group of about 100 to 150 Somalis were attempting to enter the compound via ladders on the wall, but scattered as the helicopters arrived.”

The Marines and SEALs formed a perimeter around the compound as a security detail and several times were “under fire” by what Boyle described as Somali “warlords” but, they were under orders not to return the fire unless the compound was clearly under attack, reports said.

Fortunately, Boyle said, his unit took “no casualties” and the U.S. military personnel ultimately escorted 61 diplomats and American civilians aboard the two choppers and flew off without incident.

“I was first on and last out,” Boyle said.

Their action was followed by the arrival of five CH-46 choppers early on Jan. 6 and they safely took out the remaining dignitaries.

Altogether, according to Wikipedia, both missions accounted for the removal of a total of 281 evacuees from 30 countries, including 61 Americans and the ambassadors of the U.S., Kenya, Nigeria, Soviet Union, Sudan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom, plus diplomats from Germany, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

During his military service, from 1989 to 1993, Boyle also participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and earned these citations: Rifle Badge Expert, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Southeast Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze stars, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 star and Navy Unit Commendation.

Boyle runs in the Marine Corps Marathon and, later this year, plans to run in the New York City Marathon.

Asked if he had formulated plans for post-military life, Boyle said, “I always knew I’d be in civil service, so I applied for the fire department. It’s been the best job I’ve ever had.”

He was hired by the KFD July 18, 1996, and assigned to Station 2 at 109 Kearny Ave.

Boyle has earned citations for his work as a member of the KFD’s Technical Rescue and Confined Space teams and for his work in Superstorm Sandy.

He was named 2000 Firefighter of the Year for helping rescue a woman trapped on the second floor in a burning house, according to Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

As an involved parent, he has also served as PTA president at Roosevelt School where his daughters Jillian and Elizabeth are enrolled.

“That’s the kind of leadership we’re looking for,” Dyl said.

Effective May 6, Boyle assumed the rank of captain at the annual salary of $105,137.

Boyle fills the slot vacated by the May 1 retirement of Fire Capt. Dennis J. Hyde, who left after completing 27.5 years of service with the department and collecting a total of $57,224 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation.

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