CHICAGO (CBS) — A touching salute to a fallen Chicago firefighter drew hundreds of his comrades to his wake Tuesday night in the Chatham neighborhood.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports that two ladder trucks and a huge American flag formed an arch of honor outside Leak & Sons Funeral Home at Cottage Grove Avenue and 76th Street.

One by one, fellow firefighters marched into the funeral home where Walter Patmon Jr. lay and saluted him.

“Many people, because this is the Thanksgiving week, are having a hard time getting here; but they’re making the effort to come out and pay tribute to a great man,” said Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Tom Ryan.

Patmon, 61, became a rookie at the age of 43. It had been his goal since he had been a child. He died on Nov. 11, when he suffered a heart attack at the Engine Co. 121 firehouse in Beverly, after returning from a call.

A colleague there, Lt. Arnett Cornell, called Patmon the “heart and soul” of his unit.

Patmon’s wife and three daughters talked to reporters at Tuesday’s wake.

“He loved working for the fire department. That was his dream. And he was just a great dad, husband, just a great dad,” said his widow, Diane Patmon.

Daughter Kirby Patmon said, “It was just great to have him as a dad and I’m really going to miss him.” She said what she’ll remember most about him is how supportive he was, in whatever his children wanted to do.

“He always told us how beautiful we were,” she recalled.

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