The 36th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service will honor nine firefighters who died in the line of duty from North Carolina, including one from Johnston County. They are among the 75 firefighters who died in 2016 and 20 firefighters who died in previous years who will be remembered at the official national service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland on Sunday, October 8th.
Firefighter John M. Davis, Jr., age 45, of the Kenly Fire Department, died on May 7, 2016, after experiencing chest pains after assisting with a patient extrication at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
Firefighter Davis was known as a person with a quiet demeanor, selfless and fierecely loyal to his family and friends. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. He and his best friend, Keith Thompson, started co-ed softball at church. He was a member of the Center Ridge Presbyterian Church and assisted the Kenly Area Ministries organization with collecting food for needy families during the holidays.
He worked full time as an 18-wheeler driver for JP Edwards moving heavy equipment. When he had a free moment, it was always about spending time with his wife, family, and friends.
In addition to his father, John is survived by his wife of sixteen months, Dwaina Gurley Davis; his stepdaughter, Hanna Leigh Holland; his daughters, Courtney and Autumn Davis; half-brother, Daniel Grice; and his brotherhood of firemen with the Kenly Fire Department.
John is remembered for a simple phrase he would often say, “Let go and let God.”
Fire Chief David Kevin Britt, age 54, of the Severn Volunteer Fire Department, died on June 18, 2016, after suffering a heart attack at his home several hours after responding to a motor vehicle accident.
Captain Bradley Steven Long, age 28, of the Sherrills Ford-Terrill Fire and Rescue, died on June 6, 2016, while diving at Lake Norman to recover the body of a man who drowned the day before.
Firefighter Richard Michael Sheltra, age 20, of the Pineville-Morrow Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue, died on April 30, 2016, during a lightning-sparked commercial structure fire at a strip mall.
Firefighter Prentice Jay Tyndall, age 45, of the Hugo Volunteer Fire & Rescue, died on May 12, 2016, after falling ill following his response to a mutual aid structure fire on May 8, 2016.
Firefighter James Ronald Varnell, age 53, of the Bakertown Volunteer Fire Department, died on February 2, 2016, after becoming ill immediately following his participation in department training.
Firefighter Joshua Lee Warren, age 33, of the Alexis Fire Department, died on June 16, 2016, after participating in department-mandated physical fitness training.
Firefighter Joshua M. Woods, age 24, of the Siler City Fire Department, died on January 12, 2016, from injuries sustained in a crash while responding to a call for a reported cardiac arrest.
Firefighter Tommy Wright, age 20, of the Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue, died on March 21, 2010, after a car accident on the way back from training.
Their names will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Academy grounds. The national tribute is sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Fire Administration.
Thousands are expected to attend the service, including families and friends of the fallen firefighters, members of Congress, Administration officials and other dignitaries. Families will receive flags flown over the U. S. Capitol and the National Memorial. Members of the fire service, honor guard units and pipe and drum units from across the country will participate in this national tribute.