Derrick Caddell graduated from DHS in ’03 and went on to attend Texas A&M, graduating from there in 2009. Following earning his degree, Derrick went to Hondo to manage a ranch. He and Krystal Christensen of Santa Fe, TX, married in 2014, celebrating a beautiful wedding in which Krystal’s daughter, Trinity, participated, becoming Derrick’s daughter as well. Eventually, two other daughters, Camryn and Kaelyn were born.
A dream to become a firefighter like his uncle, Russell Johnson, had always been Derrick’s dream. So, in 2016, he took his test and scored so high that he beat out over 3000 other candidates. Upon his graduation, Derrick had Russell pin on his badge. Derrick has since been serving as a firefighter in San Antonio as well as a volunteer firefighter in Natalia.
Derrick’s fellow firefighters wanted to add their words of praise regarding Derrick’s work ethic. One says, “Whenever we are in public, whether it is for demonstrations at schools or grocery shopping, Derrick is always the one getting down on the kids’ level or getting things off of shelves for elderly shoppers.” Another adds that anytime a committee or work group is created to better the department in some way, Derrick is eager to volunteer to be on it, at no benefit to himself personally. And, although one of the least senior Field Training Officers, Derrick is said to be one of the most capable to train members of the department.
Reportedly, Derrick is always volunteering for training and schools to learn everything he can and to better himself. For example, he asked to be trained so he could drive the Chief, and “is great at it.” Being an FTO – Field Training Officer – is a lot of extra work.
One incident sited to showcase Derrick’s dedication took place on a call for a water rescue. A bystander on the scene had entered the water and believed he felt a body in the passenger seat of a truck. Ready in an instant, Derrick donned his protective gear and entered the water to rescue the supposed victim. Fortunately, there was no one in the vehicle.
Derrick’s and Krystal’s family has continued to grow. To their three daughters the Caddells have added a son, Christian, who was born this past January. And the family is involved in First Methodist Church in Devine, with Derrick often attending in full uniform on those occasions that he has to rush back from a shift to attend with his family.
Krystal praises Derrick as a “hands on dad.” She says that when Derrick walks in the front door, often after going nights without sleep, he is always eager to be welcomed by his kids “jumping up and down so excited to see him.” She adds, “Derrick is definitely their hero, and they love to tell people about how their daddy puts out fires.” She adds that, while Derrick absolutely loves his job and is glad to help save lives, he’ll admit that his greatest accomplishment is his kids.
Although his work is often dangerous, even when some incident involves physical risk in some courageous rescue, Derrick rarely comes home and talks about it. Actually, Krystal proudly states, “Derrick really risks his life every time he leaves for work.”