S.A. Benavides was 19-years-old when he first entered the Corpus Christi Fire Department on Sept. 11, 1968. 45 years later, on the eve of his retirement, Benavides was honored by his fellow comrades for dedicating most of his life to protecting and helping the citizens of Corpus Christi.

On Monday, Jan. 20, Benavides was presented with two pins signifying his 45-year career with the CCFD, which is no small feat, if not a rare accomplishment.

Now, Benavides is ready to close this chapter in his life, and look forward to the next. He will officially retire on Sunday, Jan. 26, after completing his final shift with the fire department.

"I'm really proud of his great accomplishment of 45 years. Saving homes, saving people; I know he's going to miss all of that," said Carol Benavides, S.A.'s wife. "I'm sure when he hears the fire truck, it's going to really bring back memories for him, but he will be just fine."

Serving over four decades in the fire department didn't come without certain sacrifices, though. After starting part time with the department as a teenager, Benavides always thought he would eventually go back to school. Instead, he put his first wife through college, followed by his daughter. In the end, Benavides never continued his own education. Instead, he became a fixture amongst Corpus Christi firefighters.

"I have no regrets. After 45 years, and being 66 years old, I feel like it's time for me to step aside and let some of these younger guys come in and take over," said Benavides. "It's time for me to spend time with my wife, and do some of the other things I like to do."

This next chapter in Benavides' life will include golfing, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his daughter, wife, and mother; and maybe, just maybe, he'll find the time to go back to college.

At the moment, though, he's reminiscing.

"What's going to stand out in my mind, as time goes along, is how I'm going to miss being with these people. You grow to love them. You fight fire with them; you eat with them; you sleep here with them. I'm going to miss being in the truck with them as they go by," said Benavides. "It's like a second family."