Dennis L. Mendenhall

January 23, 201721 Comments

Captain II, Fire Station 49-C

January 21, 2017


Service, 04/30/2009 – FS 49C

Details about the memorial service

Additional Information:
Dennis has been affiliated with the Relief Association since 1984 as a Trustee and most recently as retired on the Oversight Committee.

Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund
PO BOX 41903
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Comments (21)

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  1. David Lowe says:

    Dennis, you will be missed. You were a very generous and unselfish individual. Your family and friends came first. Your tireless work at the Relief Association will and has benefited the Association and will for years to come. You left this world a better place.Thank you for all the years you were my friend. You fought a brave and hard battle with more courage and attitude then anyone would have expected. Go in peace my friend go in peace.

  2. esantiago says:

    May God shine His perpetual light on you and may your soul rest in peace sir. You are truly missed.

  3. smokey2706 says:

    I never had the opportunity to work around Dennis, but wherever he went his outstanding reputation preceded him.
    I will always keep in my memory the photo of Dennis in the rear seat of the mighty F-4 Phantom (Viet Nam era fighter aircraft) as the Weapons Officer. Dennis was a true example of one of America’s finest! He continued that outstanding performance during his career with the LAFD serving both the citizens and his fellow Firefighters.

    I finally had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Dennis while playing golf in the LAFD Golf club. Dennis always brought a smile to his fellow Golfers whether we were playing well or poorly (usually the later). I am forever grateful to have had the chance to meet this “True American Hero”. Rest In Peace, my friend. You have made all of our lives better by being the person that you were.

  4. Tony Hidalgo says:

    This is a very sad day. I lost my friend. I’ve known Dennis for forty
    years. He mentored me when I made A/O.
    We were Captains in Battalion One for years. For me, Dennis will be missed but never forgotten.
    Rest in peace my friend.

  5. Howard Kaplan says:

    Great man, great officer, very well respected.

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ~Bible, John 15:13

    No one really ever dies, unless they are forgotten.

    RIP Dennis

  6. If you are one of the few who didn’t know him – or of him, I’d like to share something written eloquently by LAFRA’s Dave Wagner. It pretty much sums up one giant of a man, who will be sorely missed by many…


    Tribute to a Warrior
    by Dave Wagner

    Young Dennis Mendenhall always knew he had big shoes to fill. His dad, Ralph, was a Navy veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. The senior Mendenhall also was a well-respected Captain II on the LAFD from 1953 until 1978. A great-uncle, Fred De Weese, was an LAFD member who suffered a duty-related death in 1966.

    Never one to rest on the laurels of others, Dennis quickly took control of his own destiny and joined the Navy in 1967. In less than a decade, sitting in the back seat of a F4 Phantom jet as the Radio Intercept Officer, he had logged more than 2000 flight hours, graduated the prestigious “Top Gun” school, flew 168 missions over North Vietnam, and made more than 500 carrier landings.

    With the war winding down, Dennis resigned his commission in 1975 and joined the LAFD. Working in some very busy and demanding assignments, Dennis shot up through the ranks, settling in as a Captain II in 1986.

    “Overall,” says Dennis of his leadership philosophy, “I tried to practice aggressiveness on the fire ground but with restraint. Everything was done with the crew’s welfare in mind. I really enjoyed going to fires and training with the guys.”

    Taking the Navy axiom “Ship, Sailors, Self,” Dennis turned this into something befitting the fire service. “Mission, Men, Self” became his mantra. He put these principles into effect during stints at 35’s, 3’s, 60’s and Air Operations with great success.

    “Dennis’ crews were some of the best,” recalls Dave Lowe. “They worked and played hard, and always looked sharp. His guys performed well at fires and looked like they were having fun doing it.”

    Having grown up LAFD, Dennis was well aware of the importance of the Relief Association to his family. Knowing that it was time to give back and wanting to make a difference, he decided to run for election as a Trustee in 1983.

    Right from the start, it was very clear to Dennis that LAFRA needed to upgrade their investment portfolio. He knew that cash in a shoebox and a few tiered CD’s were not meeting the fiduciary responsibilities entrusted to the Board by the membership. He brought in a fellow Navy flier turned financial consultant, Garth Flint, to overhaul and diversify the portfolio. And as the Investment Committee Chairman, he pushed to educate the Board. He had them reading the Wall Street Journal, attending investment seminars and even taking courses at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.

    Dennis was also aware that LAFRA needed more professional management. In addition to being the impetus for business management training for all Board members, he was instrumental in bringing in a full-time executive director and a controller to run the day-to-day operations of the Association.

    There have been tumults and transformations at LAFRA throughout Dennis’ tenure, but he has always stayed the course and tried to see the bigger picture. During these worst of times, he was often the reassuring voice of reason and sanity.

    Not to be out-done by an illustrious father, Dennis’ kids can boast achievements of their own. Son Michael did 20 years on a Navy destroyer as a communications specialist. Son Greg is an Academy grad with three tours flying helicopters and still in the Navy, is a flight commander on the small carrier, the USS Boxer. Daughter Holly has three advanced degrees but chooses to be a stay-at-home mom.

    Dennis retired from Boat 4 in 2009, and now enjoys his retirement with his wife, Mary. He and Mary tied the knot 31 years ago but in reality, he has had a soft spot for her ever since the eighth grade.

    The truly amazing part of Dennis’ story is his battle with cancer. He has fought four bouts since 1999. He rewards and refreshes himself after each bilious skirmish with a long ocean voyage. So far he has signed on to crew Orange Coast College’s 65’ sailboat for cruises from Tahiti through the South Pacific, races from LA to Hawaii and LA to Easter Island, and the hazardous journey around Cape Horn.

    While the legacy of Dennis Mendenhall’s service lingers in the Relief Association board room, the tangible improvements for which he advocated are felt in every LAFD firehouse. His decades of dedication will benefit LAFRA members and their families for generations to come.

    # # #

    • Tom Stires says:

      Dave, Fantastic tribute Dennis. He was an extremely intelligent man who loved history and served his country and LAFRA with loyalty and dignity. He will truly be missed.

  7. Tony Hidalgo says:

    Thanks for this post Brian and we’ll said to my classmate Dave

  8. Neal Rein says:

    Dennis was my neighbor and friend. My father was on the LAFD from 1940 to 1970 as soon as Dennis and I met we always talked about the LAFD. Dennis’ dad was on the LAFD too, so he and I traded stories of being sons of a fireman. As it turned out, Dennis’ son and my son are both military helicopter pilots. Dennis’s son is Navy and mine Air Force. Well, it turned out that our sons knew each other and worked together. Small world. Dennis would often stop by my house when I was in the garage working on my hot rod. He was a car guy and had a very pristine Porsche that I always wanted to buy. I am a retired cop and Dennis and I would often talk of how it was in the “old days”. Each generation has its old days and talking about ours was a real treat. Dennis fought cancer for several years and I have never known anyone who faced adversity with the courage and positive spirit of Dennis. I not only really liked the guy,I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I could easily see what a strong leader he must have been. RIP my friend.

  9. Roger Caswell says:

    Dennis, It was always a pleasure and a kick to be sharing time with you as well as your Gentleman Father…I know you’ll be missed by many who cared deeply for you. That includes me! Thanks for your friendship.

  10. Duane Warth says:

    I am sorry to learn of your passing. We worked together at old F.S.66 back in the 1980’s. You always did a great job. Rest in Peace my friend

  11. Dan Costa says:

    Also thank you for your post Brian , Tony, Dave and Howard so very well said. I was honored to work with Dennis as his Captain one at Fire Station #3 for a few years and during the LA Riots he was truly a leader and a man of honor. He will be missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace my friend !!!!

  12. Mac Treasure says:

    A classmate, veteran and friend. He’ll be missed by all who knew him.

  13. Jan Bernard says:

    Dennis you are truly the Man of Steel. You fought the good fight! Your service to our community is unsurpassed! I’ll miss playing golf with you, but mostly I’ll miss you! Rest in peace brother!

  14. Jimmy Hill says:

    To the Mendehall family, Our prayers are with you during your
    hours of need. Dennis will be missed by one and all who knew him.

  15. Robert Rosario says:

    I had the pleasure of working around Dennis in Battalion 5. Dennis was a calm extremely competent Officer. I remember a fire we went to on Avocado street in 35’s district, it seemed like the whole block was burning from the loom up. But the radio had a calm voice, strategically placing incoming companies.
    It’s funny but it sounded like a fighter Pilot speaking into his mask.
    Rest in peace Dennis well deserved rest.

  16. John Ware says:

    Worked with Dennis at FS-3. Excellent Officer. Took care of business. Called things as he saw them. Thanks for your dedication and service to the USA, LAFD, and Relief Association.

  17. John Paul Jones says:

    In the late 70’s, Denny and I flew together regularly as members of Naval Reserve Fighter Squadron 302 at Miramar Naval Air Station. Airborne, Denny was the consummate professional, no nonsense and one step ahead. It was always a pleasure finding him on my wing, or at ease in our ready room. A man of character has gone west. My deepest sympathies are offered to his family.

  18. Bob Munoa says:

    Dennis did it right, in his F4 Phantom and on the LAFD. You will be missed my friend.

  19. Sonny Garrido says:

    Dennis, we will miss you on our
    Tuesday golf group.
    Thank you for being the Patriot that you were.
    Loved talking about Nam with you.
    Loved talking about religion and families with you.
    Semper Fi my friend.

  20. Shaunnon says:

    Dennis, miss you more… you will be missed by all of us. Prayers go up to you and out to your family.

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