Saturday, March 22, 2003

Memorial a gathering spot for firefighters

Brothers stop, deliver flowers, pay respects

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Five hours after one of their own was killed in the line of duty, Cincinnati firefighters battled strong winds Friday as they tacked up two black-and-purple mourning banners at the Cincinnati Firefighters Memorial.

Some knew Oscar Armstrong III well. Others knew him only in passing. But all wanted to do something for Armstrong, who died from injuries suffered fighting a house fire in Bond Hill.

"This is something you never want to do," said Engine 19 Capt. Greg Potter.

Throughout the afternoon, firefighters heading to the department's headquarters on Central Avenue, just a block away, honked as they drove by.

The Cincinnati firefighters cleaned up the weather-worn memorial by mowing the grass, weeding and planting flowers. Firefighters also placed a mourning flag next to the American flag that flies there each day, before lowering both to half-staff.

Firefighters from Loveland-Symmes and Milford Community departments pulled up at 3 p.m. and laid flowers at the memorial, where an inscription below a statue of a firefighter reads:

"In honor of those dedicated firefighters of the Cincinnati Fire Department who lost their lives in the line of duty."

After a moment of silence, a fireman from Loveland-Symmes ripped a fire patch off of co-worker Travis Brown's sleeve, then placed it at the memorial.

Although they didn't know Armstrong, they spoke of a brotherhood created by doing the same dangerous job.

"There are so many hazards to the job, you don't think about it every day," said Loveland-Symmes Battalion Chief Billy Goldfeder. "But, when somebody dies, a little piece of all of us goes with him."


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