Firefighters, Dignitaries Gather for Texas Plant Blast Memorial

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WACO, Texas -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the 12 men honored at a memorial service for West fertilizer plant first responders "ordinary individuals blessed with extraordinary courage."

Perry spoke Thursday at the service in Waco, eight days after an explosion that killed 14 people, including 10 first responders and two people considered honorary first responders.

Perry says a shared love of their community bound each of the men who died.

Perry mentioned Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Kenny Harris, who was off duty when a fire broke out but rushed to the scene to help.

Several volunteers were fighting the blaze when the plant exploded.

Thousands of people and firefighters from all over Texas filled Baylor University's basketball arena for the service.

President Barack Obama was also scheduled to speak.


WACO, Texas -- Family members are paying tribute to the first responders who died in the West fertilizer plant explosion.

Video messages from family members were played Thursday during a memorial service in Waco. President Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and thousands of attendees watched relatives of the 10 first responders and 2 honorary first responders speak about their loved ones.

Relatives of West volunteer firefighter and city secretary Joey Pustejovsky said they would miss his smile, his strong hugs and his commitment to his family.

The brother-in-law of Cody Dragoo, another volunteer firefighter, remembered how Dragoo would leave notes for his wife, Patty, when he was traveling, and how he loved hunting and NASCAR.


WEST, Texas -- U.S. Sen. John Cornyn says tragedies like the West fertilizer plant explosion that killed at least 14 remind him of the fierce loyalty Texans have for each other.

Cornyn spoke on behalf of Texas' congressional delegation Thursday at a memorial service for the first responders who died in last week's explosion at West Fertilizer. He introduced President Barack Obama, who attended the service along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Cornyn called on those watching to "never forget the courage and the resolve" of the people of West. He says one resident of West told him after the blast that being from Texas is not just about a home state, but an extended family.

Ten first responders and two people who helped fight the initial fire were honored at the service.


WACO, Texas (AP) - President Barack Obama is telling mourners at a memorial service for victims of a Texas plant explosion that their community is not alone.

With a dozen flag-draped coffins of volunteers and firefighters before him, Obama said: "We're neighbors too. We're American too, we stand with you and we do not forget."

The April 17 fertilizer plant fire in West, Texas, erupted and leveled part of the town and killed 14 people. The memorial service was held at Baylor University in nearby Waco.

Obama attended the service with first lady Michele Obama on the same day he shared the stage in Dallas with four former presidents gathered for the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library.

Obama says: "We give thanks for the courage and the compassion and incredible grace of the people of West."