By Margie Wuebker
Two New Bremen firefighters will be among the 107 fallen heroes honored Oct. 3 during the 23rd annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. The event takes place on the grounds of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.
The pair -- John A. Garman, 42, and Kenneth J. Jutte, 44, -- died of injuries sustained in a silo explosion and fire Oct. 1, 2003, at Hoge Lumber Co. at the edge of New Knoxville.
Two other Ohio men will be honored along with firefighters from 34 states and the country of Guam who died in the line of duty last year. The total also includes three firefighters who perished in previous years.
Families of the fallen firefighters as well as fire and emergency service leaders will join federal, state and local government officials at the ceremony rich in fire service history.
Representatives of the New Bremen-German Township Fire Department will be among eight Ohio departments participating in the service. The weekend event, which also includes a candlelight service the evening of Oct. 2, concludes with the unveiling of plaques listing the names of this year's honorees. Plaques grouped around the monument on the fire academy campus will bear the names of 2,843 firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1981. The number includes 88 Ohioans, ranking the state seventh in the number of fallen firefighters during the past 23 years.
The public memorial service will begin at 10 a.m. Many fire departments across the country will conduct simultaneous services, sound sirens at noon and observe a moment of silence. Public law requires flags on federal office buildings to fly at half-staff that day in honor of America's fallen firefighters.
"As first responders to all natural and manmade emergencies, fire service personnel are constantly at risk," said Lauren Gleason, a representative of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. "Last year, firefighters died protecting their communities from structural and wildland fires, performing search and rescue activities, assisting at motor vehicle accidents and responding to a variety of emergencies."
Garman, a 10-year veteran of the New Bremen department, followed in the footsteps of his father and brother in becoming a firefighter. He coordinated the department's fire prevention programs and spent many hours cleaning and doing odd jobs at the station. He especially enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow firefighters.
Jutte, a 19-year veteran, served five years as an officer and was involved with the department's rope rescue and haz-mat teams. He also served on the local rescue squad when there were not enough volunteers to provide service to the community.