Officials and relatives pay tribute to 3 firefighters killed in Washington …

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

3 Washington firefighters killed near Twisp honored as heroes (PHOTOS).

“They dedicated their lives to protecting our national forests and the people in the communities surrounding them,” Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a eulogy. “And for that we should be grateful.” The memorial service for 20-year-old Tom Zbyszewski, 26-year-old Andrew Zajac, and 31-year-old Richard Wheeler took place in Wenatchee. Dozens of civilians also took part, many holding U.S. flags and others with signs that said “You are heroes!” Tom Zbyszewski followed in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter. He was due to return to school in about a week. “Tom was the light of my life,” his father, Richard Zbyszewski, said in his eulogy. “My path I’m afraid will always be a little bit darker because I miss him so much.” Zajac was the son of a Methodist minister from Downers Grove, Illinois.

He was in his second year as a professional wildland firefighter for the Forest Service and earned a master’s degree in biology last year from the University of South Dakota. Jenn, in a statement read by Zajec’s mother, Mary, said, “Andrew was my calm and my strength; my belay (climbing) partner, my fishing buddy, my hiking companion, my love. I’ll miss him forever.” Wheeler, “Wheels” as his friends called him during their eulogies, was a fourth-generation firefighter as well as an avid fisherman, hiker and hunter.

When a person becomes a wildland firefighter, they are said to “pick up the Pulaski.” Daniel Lyon, who sustained burns on more than 60 percent of his body in the fire that killed the three firefighters, on Sunday remained in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he’s had two successful burn surgeries.

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