Tribute to a fallen Marine, firefighter and fellow American
The following story was sent to me by my brother Kreg. As Anthony prepares to leave for the Persian Gulf and parts unknown, this is very touching. Thank you to Mark for allowing me to share.
I am a firefighter in a small Oregon coast town called Yachats (Ya-hots). I received a phone call one evening from my fire department asking if I would like to go Newport to pay tribute to a fellow firefighter. He left their department to join the Marines after 9-11 and had been killed in action in Iraq. I wasted no time getting to the fire station.
On our way there we listened as other departments in our county called the dispatch center saying "Enroute to Newport for detail." After arriving at the their main station I learned what the plan was for this event. As each department arrived it was clear that this was going to be a special evening.
We were kept updated of the location of the procession that was bringing this man home. A plan was made as to where we would stage to join in to pay tribute. Toledo fire had staged at a small town called Burnt Woods on highway 20 and called to tell us that there were over sixty vehicles so far when they joined in.
When this long line passed our location it was a sight to behold. Cars and motorcycles with flashing lights and American flags flying from most of them. Toledo fire broke off from the procession and Newport, Yachats, Waldport, Seal Rock, Depoe Bay and Siletz rolled out to join in for the final leg of the journey. Our radio was in scan mode and we listened as the Newport police had the intersections shut down for us as we approached.
My fellow firefighter, Kreg Evans, looked at the highway in front of us and was awestruck by the beauty of a seemingly endless string of lights. My feelings were the same and when I looked in the side mirror to see what was behind us...
Wow! A sea of red, white, blue and amber lights as far as I could see! The magnitude of this tribute made me feel very honored to have been asked to be a part of. When we made the turn toward the funeral home we were greeted by people lining the street waving flags and being saluted for our participation in this procession. I found myself unable speak for a moment as I listened to the radio traffic from my fellow firefighters saying thank you to one another.
I can't recall the name of the man we honored that evening but it matters not. As I write this there is a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye as I remember the pride I felt to be asked to pay tribute to a fallen Marine, firefighter and fellow American. I shall not forget that sea of lights and how I feel to be an American and a firefighter.
Please pass this on to your friends so that we may not forget those who have died serving us in our armed forces or at home as firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel. God bless us all.
Mark Nessel, Assistant Chief, Yachats Rural Fire Protection District.