I'm mostly new to the fire life, but kinda not. Are you confused? Okay, bear with me and let me explain….
My grandfather, Gus, joined the Milwaukee Fire Department in 1948, fresh out of the army. He spent a long and respectable career climbing the ranks. 28 years in, a captain and just two years away from retirement, he lost his life while on duty after a bad fire due to smoke inhalation.
I had always believed that he was honored as a hero, but I never really knew. My family didn't talk about him. My grandma wouldn't discuss him, his life as a firefighter or his death.
When I started dating my firefighter, I started to become curious about my grandfather and his career. Knowing only that he was an LODD and none of the details, I decided it might be time to find out before the people that knew could no longer tell me.
My first step was running head long into a Milwaukee Fire wife, Trina, who went to look on the MFD Last Call memorial for me. His name wasn't there, but he was on the state memorial. We were puzzled. She started to do some research and I called my family.
I talked to my mom and dad, they confirmed what I already knew. Grandpa died on August 13, 1976 while on duty from smoke inhalation. This is when I learned something that troubled me… My grandmother didn't allow an LODD memorial. She turned her back on the fire service and wanted nothing more to do with them.
I stared in shock at my FF, who is a Bat Chief, as I learned this news. I was picturing his men, not being allowed to pay him honor. His mentors. The brotherhood in general. My heart broke for the men that my Grandpa brought through the ranks. He wasn't honored as a man of position and rank should have been.
In my heart, I knew he had to be honored, for him, for me and for the brotherhood. Over the next week, some very exciting things happened.
To be continued….
Holly R says
I am sure that you granddad is smiling down on you…what an honor….as it should have been long ago. If he was anything like my Pap, who was also a FF, he loved his dept. It has been very important to him even though he is no longer with the dept. that he make sure that any FF who has past is memorialized at the station. Years ago, they had a wall that they posted little bronze plaques for each member who had passed…he had recently went to that station, not ours, for a pancake breakfast and wanted to see the wall…noticed that there were some who were not on there….he has made it his mission to make sure that they are. It does mean a lot to them to honor their brothers. What a blessing to your family and your granddad’s brothers you and Trina have been…..I am sitting here in tears. There is nothing like my Pap to me, so this is something that would have been important to me and my family as well.
That is very cool that your Pap is so dedicated to the details like that. It does make a huge difference to the family, both fire and home.
I was happy to tell hubby that the reason was not something dept related. I’ll be anxiously waiting to hear part 2 so I can give him more of the story. For me, I can’t comprehend not wanting the full honors being given to him. I also can’t imagine taking that memorial away from his brothers who need is so bad. Having gone through a major LODD, I know first hand just how much they need it.
My husband was very upset when I told him the original story you had typed out that didn’t have details yet. I mean visibly upset and he doesn’t get riled up, that’s my job.