June 20, 2007 The Pump Handle 0Comment

“As fire fighters, we know the risks of answering the call, but it does not lessen our pain when the worst happens,” said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the Int’l Association of Fire Fighters.

Nine fire fighters, aged 27 to 56, died on June 18 battling a blaze at a furniture warehouse in Charleston, SC.  The city’s fire chief said the men died “doing what they loved to do — fight fires.”

The nine brave public servants who lost their lives in the line of duty are:

  • Captain William “Billy” Hutchinson, 48
  • Captain Theodore M. “Mike” Benke, 49
  • Captain Louis Mulkey, 34
  • Engineer Mark Kelsey, 40
  • Engineer Rodney Bradford “Brad” Baity, 37
  • Assistant Engineer Michael French, 27
  • Fire fighter James “Earl” Drayton, 56
  • Fire fighter Brandon Thompson, 27
  • Fire fighter Melven Champaign, 46

Information about making donations to the Charleston’s Fireman’s Fund and the Memorial Service is available here.  This was the worst loss of U.S. fire fighters’ lives since September 11, 2001.

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