SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – For the past 35 years, the community has come together to honor the lives of firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty.
“Although every firefighter gives some, there are some who gave all and although all families of firefighters sacrafice some, some sacrificed all,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.
‘Firefighter’s Memorial Day’ was started by Savannah Fire Department Captain Philip Lightfoot. This year it recognized 27 fallen heroes from four different counties.
“It’s an opportunity for us to be able to say thank you to these men and women, to their families.” Public Safety Chaplain and firefighter Dale Simmons said.
First responders, city officials, and families gathered together on Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to each fallen hero and to lay roses at the city monument honoring the men and women who have paid the ultimate price.
“The pain is still real, the loss is just as significant and as a city we’ll always be grateful for that sacrifice,” Johnson said.
Chaplain Simmons said for many, the service recognizes the loss of a loved one whose absence is felt every day.
“It was hard to read Terry’s name today. Terry passed away 10 years ago,” Simmons stated as he talked about Terry Nielsen who served with the Bryan County Fire Department and died in the line of duty in 2010.
“We’re reading names, but really these were lives. This was someone’s son, somebody’s father, somebody’s could’ve been father, somebody’s nephew who never had the opportunity to have all of their dreams come true due to their service. There are occupations that pay more, there are occupations that are less dangerous, yet these individuals will take that mantle to be the person to run to an emergency while the rest of us are running away from an emergency,” Mayor Johnson added.
In a concluding prayer Simmons said: “I thank you today for the men and women who tirelessly, through regular times and even through tough times that we’re experiencing in our country right now, never fail to show up to protect us.”
The following names are the firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty:
- John Butler (1865), SFD
- Charles Schreck (1871), SFD
- George Puder (1873), SFD
- William E. Harrold (1887), SFD
- John Weihrs (1889), SFD
- Henry B. Goodman (1889), SFD
- Frank McStay (1896), SFD
- Aug Whitman (1898), SFD
- William Michael (1898), SFD
- Michael F. Kain (1904), SFD
- Frank N. Harris (1905), SFD
- George Mouro (1906), SFD
- N. J. Eady (1906), SFD
- E. P. Daily (1906), SFD
- H. J. Larkin (1911), SFD
- Henry F. Corley (1912), SFD
- A. S. Christiansen (1921), SFD
- J. F. Smith (1935), SFD
- Jimmy Kavannoi (1935), SFD
- D. T. Ethridge (1937), SFD
- William L. Dufour (1942), SFD
- Thomas R. Dudley (1967), SFD
- Clifford K. Burton (1979), HAAF
- Raymond Waters Jr. (1982), MFD
- Norman L. Simmons (1991), SFD
- Terry Nielsen (2010), BCFD
- Mike Curry (2016), SFES
Mayor Johnson said the individuals were there ‘in spirit.’
“They live in the lives of their loved ones and their co-workers.”
The event is typically held each year during fire prevention week to bring awareness to the danger of fires and provide education on fire safety. A monument in front of Savannah Fire Headquarters lists the names of those who will never be forgotten.
“Whether it be a firefighter, an EMS personnel, a police officer, a sheriff’s deputy, that we would take the time to look them in the face and say thank you for what you do for us as individuals and communities,” Simmons encouraged.