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Hero firefighter-paramedic will fly with the Thunderbirds

JasDurbwith his wife Listheir daughter SamanthsJoshuis honored for carrying woman down 28 floors burning building. | Sun-Times Media

Jason Durbin, with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Samantha, and son, Joshua, is honored for carrying a woman down 28 floors in a burning building. | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 11, 2011 12:53AM

Jason Durbin rushed up 28 floors to save a woman in a burning building in Lincoln Park in 2009.

Now, he’ll be going even higher — as a reward.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are honoring Durbin, a Chicago firefighter-paramedic, as “A Hometown Hero,” and they’ll take him for a flight in an F-16 jet before this year’s Chicago Air and Water Show.

Durbin was off duty when he saw fire raging out of the side of the building at 1451 N. Sandburg Terrace on the afternoon of Dec. 13, 2009. After he pulled over to report the fire, he learned that someone was still inside the building. So he hustled up 28 floors to rescue the woman and carried her down piggyback. He had been on the job just 15 months at the time.

Last year, he received the Carter Harrison Award in 2010, the city’s highest honor for firefighter bravery. His heroic actions caught the eye of the Thunderbirds, who chose Durbin from three finalists in a contest that began in April to recognize Chicago’s “Hometown Heroes,” according to the city’s department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Durbin works in Squad 1 of the Chicago Fire Department and will take the F-16 ride on Aug. 18. The annual Air and Water Show takes place Aug. 20 and 21.

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