(CBS) — Firefighters from across the Midwest were on hand to pay their respects Wednesday night, when a Boeing 737 carrying a fallen firefighter’s ashes from Arizona landed at Waukegan Regional Airport.
Fallen firefighter Anthony Rose was 23, engaged to be married, and weeks from becoming a father. Only recently had he become a member of Prescott, Arizona’s Granite Mountain Hotshots. He perished June 30 when he and 18 other firefighters became trapped by a raging wildfire.
Family members, who are from far north suburban Beach Park, and Beach Park Fire Chief Paul Tierney accepted the urn bearing the ashes as his extended family, 250 strong, stood at attention.
“It doesn’t matter that he never served in the fire service in Illinois,” said Waukegan Fire Marshall Mike Scholle. He went to Arizona and got interested in it there and served there. He’s one of us, though. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Arizona, New York, Florida – you’re one of us. And that’s why people came out.”
More than 40 fire trucks took part in the procession leaving the airport, some coming from as far away as Champaign and Kankakee. Two air rescue trucks greeted the plane with streams of water that arched over it. On the road leading from the runway, the hearse and family limousine passed beneath a giant U.S. flag, suspended from extended Waukegan and Beach Park tower ladders.