An hour long processional along the Gulf Frwy feeder leading to Grace Community Church was lead by 2 firetrucks that each carried a bright red casket.
Behind them, dignitaries including Mayor Bill White and members of city council. Houston firefighters followed joined side by side with bretheren across Texas, Louisiana and Canada.
Inside the church, a sea of blue uniforms mixed with citizens who joined the families of Captain James Harlow and rookie fireman Damion Hobbs. The service included a recollection of memories of Harlow and Hobbs from their colleagues at station-26. It is where Assistant Fire Chief Rick Flanagan began his career.
“Captain Harlow was affectionately referred to by his fellow firefighters as’Captain Hog Leg’. We took over the cooking duties because we were trying to keep our cholesterol due to all the butter that Capt. Hog Leg used. Damion Hobbs…we know he was not with us very long, but we had a lot in common. He served in the military like many of us did. It’s obvious that he dedicated his life to public service, and to make our world a better and a much safer place. The thought of Captain Harlow and Hobbs will be in our minds forever. It’s something that we will have to live with, but we know that they’re in heaven and in good company.”
Mayor White said the passing of Harlow and Hobbs makes us ask why bad things happen to good people.
“Scientists tell us that the most basic of all instincts in human beings is the fear of fire. For those of you involved in fire suppression, we give our deep thanks.”
The ceremony included the presentation of the medal of honor by the international association of firefighters and the helmets worn by Harlow and Hobbs to their families. Fire Chief Phil Boriskie said the hurt will continue for a while but he had this to say to firefighters in attendance.
“Y’all have sent our brothers home to rest with dignity. Whatever was needed, the response from y’all was always ‘here I am, send me’. Thank y’all.”
Separate private funeral services will be held on Friday.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.