A Fireman's Son

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This is a blog post from News Three's Michael Oder sharing his thoughts on the death of two Bryan Firefighters from over the weekend.

It’s not very often a story or situation hits so close to home for me. The fire at the Knights of Columbus hall in Bryan, and the tragic loss of two firefighters, strikes at my core.

My father is a firefighter.

He has been my entire life. He was a firefighter before I was born and, I imagine, he always will be. He’s also an EMT and Captain of a fire boat for the Port of Houston Fire Department. In my eyes, he’s a hero. All dads are heroes in their son’s eyes. First responders are heroes in their own right.

The nightmare that unfolded late Friday into Saturday morning is one most firefighters and their families dread. It’s a nightmare that I’ve had before. A phone call, or knock on the door, in the middle of the night. There’s been an accident... something's happened.

Two families lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, in one day. I can’t imagine that pain. To be honest, I don’t want to. It scares me. There’s no amount of sympathy that can combat pain that deep. It reminds me that, given different circumstances, my father could have responded to a fire that night, or any night.

The pain felt by the Wallace and Pickard families will last well past this weekend. It will be an empty seat at the dinner table, a missing face in the crowd at a sporting event or school function, a holiday absent of a familiar smiling face.

For Mitch Moran and Ricky Mantey, the two firefighters recovering, the pain is different. Their lives, altered in a moment, left them with scars, both physical and emotional. Recovery doesn’t end when they are released from the hospital.

A firefighter’s family is a proud family. They know the sacrifice their loved ones made is not in vain. As a community, our charge is to support those families. Yes, in the immediate future, with food and prayers and hugs, but also a year from now. Ten years from now, twenty years from now. When Eric Wallace’s youngest is old enough to hear stories about her father. When Greg Pickard’s grandchildren see photos of him on the wall and ask what he was like. Those are times when we have to be there.

Our commitment will have to be a lifetime of never forgetting. Our commitment will have to be a lifetime of happy memories and shared moments of joy. Our commitment will have to be a lifetime of trying to understand the desire these men and women have to run toward the fire and not away from it. We must do these things until the end of our watch.

Only then will we know the job is done.

God bless Eric Wallace. God bless Greg Pickard. God watch over Mitch Moran and Ricky Mantey, Jr., and may God continue to watch over and bless our community.

-Michael Oder