CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio firefighter killed while trying to save others was remembered as a “true hero” Wednesday as thousands of uniformed firefighters from across the country took part in processions and funeral services or freed up Cincinnati colleagues to attend by covering their shifts.
Cincinnati Fire Chef Richard Braun said 29-year veteran Daryl Gordon not only died a hero’s death, but lived a heroic life.
“A hero is not defined by one act of bravery,” Braun said during funeral services in a downtown cathedral. “Heroes are consistent; they know the right thing to do, and they do it.”
Looking at Gordon’s widow and their two daughters, Braun said Gordon was a hero in his many roles, from firefighter, to emergency rescue tech, to husband, father and friend. He was a cheerful, mischievous presence in the department, but always ready to help, Braun said.
Gordon, 54, died March 26 of injuries after he fell down an elevator shaft while looking for people to rescue in an apartment blaze. Multiple investigations are ongoing into the fire’s origin and the circumstances of his death.
It was the first loss of a Cincinnati firefighter in the line of duty since 2003.
“Cincinnati is heartbroken,” said Mayor John Cranley, who quoted from Bruce Springsteen’s post-9/11 song “Into the Fire” with lines such as “May your strength give us strength” as he discussed the firefighter’s bravery and the loss.
Some firefighters, including a large contingent from Columbus, covered shifts in Cincinnati during the services. Braun was a longtime firefighter and official in Columbus before becoming Cincinnati’s chief.
Authorities said firefighters from Canada and many states took part in a solemn procession through downtown streets with bagpipes playing and Gordon’s casket carried aboard a fire truck to the cathedral.
The northern Cincinnati suburb of Springdale said some 3,500 people were expected for the subsequent burial, with dozens of buses carrying firefighters to the cemetery from the funeral.
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