Citizen’s Fire Company Chief Tim Yingst said he has been to a few processionals for fallen firefighters and knew how they worked.
When he escorted his fellow firefighter and crew member Jerome Guise home to Mount Holly Springs on Tuesday, it was altogether different.
“Actually riding in it really hit home. Until you see it out there riding in it, it really hits you,” he said.
Guise died in a fire Monday morning in Monroe Township when a porch roof collapsed on him. Jessica Diehl, a resident of the home, also died in the fire.
Fire companies from throughout Cumberland County and other states lined a route from Paxton Street in Harrisburg to Interstate 81 to the Holly Pike and ending at Hollinger Funeral Home in Mount Holly Springs. In posts and videos across social media, firefighters stood at attention, flags flew from ladder trucks or overpasses and area residents stopped what they were doing as a long line of police and fire vehicles passed.
But, the magnitude of the support really hit home when the procession reached Mount Holly and Yingst said he saw everyone standing out to support Guise.
“It wasn’t only fire departments out. It was the community,” Yingst said. “You’d see people outside their work, standing and watching. People pulling off the interstate saluting. It was touching.”
When the procession reached the funeral home, the members of Citizen’s Fire Company gathered around the back of the Yellow Breeches EMS ambulance carrying Guise’s body, protecting his family and the flag-draped stretcher from view as they carried him into the funeral home.
Keli Bouman of Mount Holly Springs waited for the procession with an American flag in hand. She said she’s known “the guys at the firehouse for about 20 years,” having delivered pizzas to them.
Guise’s death has affected the whole town, she said.
“You just feel a blanket of sadness. You could feel it the second you woke up yesterday and heard the news,” Bouman said.
David Deutsch took a break from his work at the Whimsical Poppy, located just down Baltimore Avenue from the funeral home. He said he felt compelled to show support for the people who put their lives on the line everyday.
“It’s something that I’m not brave enough to do and I appreciate the people who do it,” he said. “I didn’t know this man, but this is our town so you gotta show support.”
Lorrie Simon, a member of the South Newton fire company, said there’s been “a lot of emotions” around the fire company. They had just seen Guise at their meat raffle Saturday night where he was “just happy and laughing.”
Now, it’s time for the brotherhood of firefighters to show support for one of their own.
“This is what we all need to do — come together,” she said.
Email Tammie at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!