Hometown Heroes - Michael Kuk

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 4:19 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Lessons learned in Vietnam helped this week’s Hometown Hero in his firefighting career. Michael Kuk, PhD, helped grow the Ward 1 Moss Bluff Fire Department into what it is today. You don’t hear much about Combat Firefighters in wars and skirmishes these days. But that’s what Michael Kuk was assigned to when he arrived in Vietnam in 1969.

“Very dangerous most of the time,” recalled Kuk. “Very hard job, a job that people can’t understand. My book tells that we were not a group that stayed in the fire station. We had other missions. We were also fire people. In other words, we made napalm and we went out on burning missions. I mean, anything we could do to thwart Viet Cong in particular.”

Kuk came to Southwest Louisiana in 1976, first serving as fire chief at Olin and PPG. He then became Moss Bluff’s first full-time chief in the early 80s.

“Moss Bluff Fire department pioneered a lot of the interesting aspects of the fire service. First of all, we were the first to have lady firefighters in the whole state. We were the first to have 911 as an emergency call.”

Kuk had barely been on the job in 1982 when Sam Houston High School burned to the ground.

“The fire beat us to death, it did. I was the first at the scene. Barely 3 minutes, I made a 360 of the building and I got on the radio and told our dispatcher to bring in Mutual Aid, call everybody that can send us help. We had help come as far as Jennings.”

Last year, Kuk wrote a book, “An Army Firefighter in Vietnam,” telling of the time he spent in Vietnam.

‘If the door opens, walk through it. It’s probably a great opportunity. Don’t get discouraged by defeat. Learn the lesson from defeat. I have and I have continually bettered myself.”

Kuk still volunteers, fighting fires in northern Vernon Parish and serviing as a chaplain and musician.