EMMITSBURG, Md. — The names of two West Virginia firefighters who died while responding to emergencies in 2013 are among the 107 firefighters — killed in the line of duty nationwide — whose names were added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on Sunday.
Family members and friends of those firefighters attended a solemn ceremony in Emmitsburg, Md. marking Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day.
“Each of these men and women were important, not just because of their service as firefighters, but because they held a special place in your lives,” said Chief Dennis Compton, chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“Each of these brave men and women were extraordinary individuals for many different reasons.”
Charles “Charlie” Pierson, 76, was the founding chief of the Southern Jackson County Volunteer Fire Department. Considered a driving force in public and industrial safety and security in Jackson County and throughout West Virginia, he died suddenly on Dec. 7, 2013 while responding to an accident.
Rev. John Appleton, 62, pastor at the Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church in Malden, had been a member of the Malden Volunteer Fire Department for seven years. He collapsed and died at the scene of a mobile home fire after going into cardiac arrest in Kanawha County in June 2013.
The other additions to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial this year included the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed June 30, 2013 in the Yarnell Hill Fire in northern Arizona.
Ninety-eight of the firefighters remembered Sunday died in 2013, while nine were killed in previous years.
“Real heroes don’t wear capes,” said Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The only secret identity they have is, probably, most people won’t know who they are until they dial 911. Only their friends and families know what they do and the only time they were a mask is when they put on their protective gear. They’re the real heroes.”
The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, located on the campus of the National Emergency Training Center, was created in 1981 to remember firefighters killed in the line of duty.
In West Virginia, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, more than 10,000 career and volunteer firefighters respond to more than 120,000 emergencies every year.