Remembering the fallen heroes of West

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 26 at 12:33 PM

WACO, Texas -- The recovery continues in West. One day after a memorial service honoring the victims, the town braced for another funeral.

“We will never forget what happened here,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry at the memorial. “Nor [will we] forget the sacrifices of those who first responded.”

Flag lined coffins of each of the first responders who died in the explosion stretched out side by side at Thursday’s memorial service in Waco.

A bell rang in honor of each fallen hero, starting first with honorary firefighter Jimmy Matuese.

The families and friends of those who died took turns remembering the legacy each left behind.

“He was always excited when he would get called out and no matter what time day or night, facing injury or death, he grew to love it,” said the family of firefighter Jerry Chapman. “Jerry will forever be in our hearts and awaits us in heaven.”

It was a sentiment shared by the family of William Uptmor, Junior, or "Buck" as they knew him.

“He was the friend who showed up before you asked,” said his family. “He leaves a legacy of generosity. I know he would be amazed at the outpouring of love.”

Each firefighter, they say, shared a passion to help others.

“He gave for the people in this community and for that we are so very proud, but that was the way Joey was,” said Joey Pustejousky’s family.

Captain Kenneth ‘Luckey’ Harris leaves behind a large family. His children remembered him as a hero.

“He was an awesome dad. The best Dad I could have ever hoped for and an awesome human as well,” said Cpt. Harris’ son.

The crowd wiped away tears as the memories continued.

“Cody was the type of guy that would do anything for anyone at anytime, no questions asked. You knew you could call on him with any need,” recalled Cody Dragoo’s family and friends.

Captain Robert ‘Bob’ Snokhous served the community for years.

“He was a true hero not only as a firefighter, but as a husband, a father, a brother, a son, an uncle and as a man,” said his family.

Many family members said the men were born to protect.

“He was exactly what you would think of when you heard the title, volunteer firefighter,” said Kevin Sanders’ family and friends. “Kevin would be up and out of the house within minutes of his fire pager going off.”

Perry Calvin’s family focused on the smiles he gave them.

“God had a special plan for Perry so instead of dwelling on the loss I think we should celebrate his life and remember all the fun times and the smiles that he gave us,” they said.

Captain Doug Snokhous’s daughter says he died doing what he was meant to do.

“There’s no greater gift than serving your neighbors, family and friends,” she said.

It’s what Morris Bridges’ family says fueled him in life as well.

“He loved this community and the people in the community. He would have done anything to help them,” said Bridges’ wife.

The team of men died on the front line; living life to the last second protecting others.

“Cy lived for today. He lived as if tomorrow was not an option and held nothing back in his passion and fury for the life that he had,” said Cyrus Reed’s friend.

A funeral is scheduled in West for the next nine days. As the town mourns its loss, the cleanup continues. This weekend, officials say residents in zone three, the area closest to the blast zone, will likely be able to return to see what if anything of their home survived.

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