Tales of the 7th Battalion 20

Wolf Warriors

When my son Joe was so horribly burned, attempting to rescue a child, I was amazed at the many visitors that came to see him and offer support. Most of them were his fellow Firefighters. Our house was located in the 7th battalion. There was a constant flow of rigs coming by to see Joe. That special support helped him heal. Those rough tough Firefighters were there when Joe and his family needed them. We are forever thankful.

Like wolves, who are the warriors of the wild, Firefighters tend to take care of their own. I can remember when one of our members had a child who was struck by lightening. It was a terrible tragedy. The youngster survived but needed help with rehabilitation. Firefighters showed up and helped out. When one of our Firefighters was in a motorcycle accident, and ran out of sick time during his recovery, the men in the 7th battalion volunteered to work in his place so his family would not lose a paycheck. This attitude seems to be universal with Firefighters. The stories of Firemen helping their own in New York City, after the 911 tragedy, would fill volumes of books. The stout hearts of the men and women of the fire service are filled with compassion and kindness.

There was a particular incident in the 7th battalion that will always warm my heart. It occurred when one of our members fell sick. Dave Edwards was a free spirit kind of guy. He loved motorcycles, women, firefighting, and beer. He was fun to be with and was a top notch Firefighter. Dave was not feeling well and a subsequent diagnosis indicated he was suffering from a virulent form of leukemia.

He eventually was hospitalized as the disease progressed. He needed  countless transfusions as the leukemia destroyed his blood cells. I was visiting him one day and he told me he knew he was not going to make it. His main concern was for his girl friend. He decided he wanted to marry her. He wanted her to have his pension so some good would come from his passing.

I told the members of the 7th battalion what was about to happen and was deluged with volunteers wanting to  attend the wedding. Because of hospital rules there could only be six of us in attendance. It was the neatest ceremony I ever attended. Dave needed several pints of blood so he would have the strength to sit in his wheel chair to take the vows of marriage. It was kind of a reverse deal where the bride was waiting at the alter in the tiny hospital chapel as we wheeled Dave in to the low musical sound of here comes the groom. We kidded him about that. All six of us were his best man. It was a united nations of Firefighters. There were two Hispanic guys, Evaristo Cervantes and Rubin Diaz. Two black guys, Ronnie Todd and Larry Cooper and two white guys, Harold Christensen and me. We told Dave we showed up so we could kiss the bride and drink his beer. It was a happy time at a time when sadness loomed in the shadows. The joy of marrying his sweetheart and having his buddies with him lifted Dave’s spirits. It touched our hearts. Dave died not long after that glorious day. All of us were glad we were able to help this good man in the last days of his life. Like the wolves in the wild, who help their own, we were there when a fellow Firefighter needed us.

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"Fire Horses" book authored by firefighter R.J. Haig.


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