Bucks County Herald

Northampton celebrates Timothy Rihl for his military service

MAX RETTIG



Northampton’s Timothy Rihl was recognized at the Oct. 25 board of supervisors meeting. Rihl recently returned home from serving overseas.

Timothy Rihl has devoted his entire life to service, wanting to do whatever he could to help others. At 16, he joined a volunteer fire company. Soon after graduating high school, he joined the Air National Guard.

On Oct. 21, he arrived home from a six-month deployment to the United Arab Emirates.

“I didn’t have any words for it. It was just like, ‘Wow,’ ” Rihl said of his reaction when he was told he was headed home. “You go away, you come home and you just see that, it’s just like the feeling of being home is just, it’s unreal. It’s amazing.”

And on Oct. 25, Rihl, a senior airman from Churchville, became the 85th member of the U.S. military to be honored in Northampton Township’s Flag Program in front of family, friends, colleagues and the township’s board of supervisors at the township building in Richboro.

Since Northampton Township introduced its flag program in 2003 to honor local residents fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, veterans of the United States military have been honored by miniature U.S. flags standing in a display.

“It’s a great feeling to be home. It’s great to be with the entire Northampton Township,” Rihl said.

During the ceremony, which his colleagues at the Northampton Township Volunteer Fire Company attended, an Air Force flag was exchanged for the U.S. flag that was then added to the display in the board meeting room of the township building. Rihl received a large U.S. flag and several honorary citations from state and U.S. representatives, including Brian Fitzpatrick, Scott Petri and Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson, who couldn’t attend because of their legislative duties.

Rihl and his mother, Betty, were simply overwhelmed at the township’s response to his return home.

Northampton Township has been an integral part of the Rihl family’s lives.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s an overwhelming feeling. You have your brothers and sisters from the fire company and the police corps, it’s just shocking,” Timothy Rihl said. “To get home and welcomed like this is unbelievable. You don’t even feel real sometimes.”

“Overwhelming. It’s overwhelming, and it just gives us such a sense of the community here,” Betty Rihl said. “You know, they were instrumental in helping us raise them. Great community.”

Rihl effectively began his career in public service as a young boy. According to his father, Chris, he was a regular volunteer on food drives and other activities during his time in the Boy Scouts, where he attained the prestigious Eagle Scout rank. He joined the Northampton fire company at his first opportunity and went on to the Air National Guard.

“We kind of knew he was going to be in public service from the beginning. He was an Eagle Scout. All through Boy Scouts he was always volunteering, doing food drives, and he was always very involved in the community,” Chris Rihl said. “He likes to give back. He knows he’s in a great community and that’s what he wants to do.”

“It hits me in the heart. It’s amazing. They’re just so great, and I have to thank the community for helping raise them,” Betty Rihl said of her sons. Timothy Rihl’s brother, Mark, is also a firefighter.

Rihl is continuing to dedicate his life to public service as a police officer in Philadelphia’s 24th district, which covers Port Richmond and areas of North Philadelphia.

“It’s just an honor, and it’s just who I am,” Rihl said. “From Boy Scouts all the way up until the military, then the fire department and everything else, it’s just who I am. That’s what I want to do, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

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