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Thread: Fallen Firefighters Honored at 27th Annual National Memorial Service

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    Fallen Firefighters Honored at 27th Annual National Memorial Service

    Fallen Firefighters Honored at 27th Annual National Memorial Service

    Posted: 10-06-2008
    Updated: 10-06-2008 10:34:29 AM

    Firehouse.Com News

    Emmitsburg, MD -- Thousands gathered here on the National Fire Academy campus for the 27th time to remember the lives of firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.

    The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service capped off the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, held by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the U.S. Fire Administration.

    "This is a celebration of life, to honor those who have died," said Chief Dennis Compton, Chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board of Directors. Compton took over the duties of calling yesterday's ceremony to order for Chairman-Emeritus Hal Bruno, who had to leave the weekend early due to illness.

    A sea of dark blue uniforms and white gloved hands began the service with the presentation of colors. There were also musical selections and special readings. The event concluded with the release of a cadre of white doves.

    Among this year's notable speakers was Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Domingo Herraiz, who delivered some reassuring words about the state of the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program.

    Herraiz said he had spent sleepless nights trying to ensure firefighters and their loved ones receive the help they need via the Hometown Heroes act and the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program. His statement that applications are now "being processed and approved unlike ever before" was met by applause from attendees. "I sleep a little better now," he said, promising that the improvements would continue.

    Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer brought a message from President George W. Bush, who could not attend the event. Schafer told the families that they had the profound appreciation of the nation, and the president.

    The most poignant part of the ceremony was the reading of the roll of honor. Family members -- some tearful, some stoic -- received a flag and a rose.

    Kris Stautamoyer was there on behalf of his father, Indiana firefighter David Stautamoyer, who died in 2005 after responding to an EMS call.

    "We went up as a family, Stautamoyer said. "This being the first year, taking it all in and experiencing it -- it definitely gets to the heart."

    New Jersey firefighter Kathleen Timperio accepted the rose and flag on behalf of North Carolina firefighter Michael D. Stanfield.

    "I feel that everybody should be represented," Temperio said. "You gave the ultimate sacrifice, you should be honored."

    This year, the names of 101 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2007 were added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. The names of nine firefighters who died in previous years were also added, bringing the total number of names that adorn the memorial's plaques to 3,200.

    Thirty-four states experienced line of duty deaths in 2007. Six multiple fatality incidents accounted for 19 deaths. Four multiple fatality accidents occurred at structural fires, one during an explosion at a HAZMAT incident, and another in an apparatus crash en route to an emergency call. South Carolina suffered the greatest number of line of duty firefighter deaths in 2007, with 10.
    photo Susan Nicol Kyle/
    Many spent time making rubbings of their bricks.

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    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    South West

    At Memorial Weekend, Charleston 9 Remembered Home > Charleston SC Tragedy

    At Memorial Weekend, Charleston 9 Remembered

    Posted: 10-06-2008
    Updated: 10-06-2008 10:22:42 AM

    Firehouse.Com News

    EMMITSBURG, MD -- Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was visibly moved by the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial Service on Sunday.

    Nine Charleston firefighters who perished last year were among the 110 honored during ceremonies at the National Fire Academy here.

    "This was such an inspirational, heart rendering event. And, this setting is so beautiful. This was such a wonderful tribute," Riley said as he gazed around the historic campus.

    A large contingent from Charleston including fire command staff, firefighters, family, friends and counselors travelled to Maryland to attend the ceremonies.

    Riley said he had no idea what to expect. But, added he was impressed with the precision and detail involved.

    Each family of a fallen hero is presented with a rose and a U.S. flag that has flown over the Capitol and the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial.

    Firefighters from across the country volunteer to participate in various functions. One involves carrying a folded flag and red rose to a presenter, usually a fire chief.

    After the flag exchanges hands, the firefighter salutes slowly.

    When South Carolina was called, nine Charleston firefighters marched up one by one, presented their items and offered a solemn salute.

    Hunter Benke, 12, said he was impressed by the way people remembered his father, Capt. Mike Benke. "It was good. Yeah, he would have liked it."

    JoAnn Cofield, Benke's mother-in-law, said she was impressed by how nice people were. "The event was nice. Everyone's been so amazingly kind." She said she thought of Benke as a son rather than a son-in-law. "We were close."

    With tears in his eyes, Frank Thompson said: "This was Brandon's day. He had been here several times to honor other firefighters. Today, it was for him."

    Brandon Thompson also perished in the Charleston furniture store fire.

    As he was reminiscing about his son's experiences, Thompson looked up and smiled: "That's our new chief right there."

    Thompson, who met the new man at the helm after the candlelight vigil Saturday night, said he is pleased with Riley's choice of Montgomery County, MD Chief Tom Carr. "From what I've been reading, we've got the best. He's genuine."

    Carr introduced himself and spoke with family members following ceremonies that included the unveiling of a plaque containing the names of the fallen heroes. The individual greetings were brief.

    Jeff Thompson, Brandon's brother, said Charleston area firefighters are anxiously awaiting Carr's arrival. "It was a great choice. It was nice of him to talk to all of us this weekend."

    A number of fire officials extended a hand to Riley following the service, offering their sympathy. Many also congratulated him on his selection.

    "Fabulous, a fabulous choice. I'm happy for our fire department and our citizens," Riley said. "Chief Carr is an outstanding chief, and will help our firefighters and our city."$61182
    Susan Nicol Kyle/
    Chief Tom Carr chats with Kim Benke, widow of Capt. Mike Benke.

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