St. Louis EMT Killed in Iraq

A St. Louis Fire Department emergency medical technician, who loved helping people so much that he signed up for the Navy Reserves, was killed in Iraq on Monday, according to the fire department and family members.

Relatives and friends said Christopher G. Walsh, 30, was killed while helping people -- the same thing that drove him to join the fire department in 2001. The Department of Defense had not yet confirmed his death late Tuesday, and details of his death were not clear.

What was clear was that he chose his own path, said Timothy Kirchoff, a friend and firefighter who worked with Walsh for several years. Walsh had followed a family history of firefighting and military service and pushed to be sent to Iraq, family and friends said.

"He said he was a little scared," Kirchoff said. "But he wanted to go over there. He basically wanted to expand his training and experience. He wanted to be on the front lines."

Kirchoff said Walsh was a talented EMT and partner in a profession that requires trust.

"He was by far the best EMT I ever worked with," said Kirchoff, who was a paramedic until heading for firefighter training shortly before Walsh left for Iraq. "He really cared for the people of the city and wanted to work for them. And when something went wrong, I knew he was there with me."

Walsh grew up in Shawnee, Kan., and came to the St. Louis area after he graduated from high school, when his father was transferred to the area.

A grandfather and an uncle had been firefighters, and his father was a medic in Vietnam, said Walsh's sister, Erin

Watson, also from the St. Louis area. Walsh followed them, training as an EMT and joining the St. Louis Fire Department. He planned to become a firefighter after returning from the Middle East.

"He loves his line of work," Watson said. "He was very proud of what he was doing."

Mark Rauss, a fire department EMT, helped train Walsh shortly after Walsh joined the department. Rauss said he wasn't surprised when Walsh joined the Navy Reserves.

"He was an honorable person, and he went on to serve his country honorably," Rauss said. "He gave his life doing something he believed in -- serving other people."

Flags will be at half-staff and crape will hang over entrances at firehouses throughout the city.

"We are in a profession where we work closely with each other, where we depend on each other," Rauss said. "It's like a family. This is like losing a brother."

Services for Walsh will be held in Kansas, Watson said. A brother who is serving in Iraq with the Marines will escort his body back to the United States. Burial will be at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Another Missouri man was killed in Iraq on Thursday, according to the Defense Department. Army Staff Sgt. Michael L. Deason, 28, of Farmington, died after a bomb exploded near his vehicle. Deason was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne, based in Fort Campbell, Ky.