Hundreds Travel To Pay Respects To Fallen Philadelphia Firefighters
By Cherri Gregg and Kim Glovas
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hundreds of firefighters from all over the country came to salute 60-year-old Lt. Robert Neary on Friday afternoon. The decorated firefighter was killed on Monday, along with fellow firefighter, 25-year-old Daniel Sweeney, in a massive warehouse blaze in Kensington. A viewing for Sweeney was held Friday evening at Saint Cecelia’s Roman Catholic Church in Fox Chase.
Firefighters from as far away as Calgary traveled to pay tribute to their fallen brother Lt. Robert Neary. The ceremony for Neary began around 3pm, with a full funeral procession that ended in front of Givenesh Funeral Home near Academy and Amity Roads.
The ceremony included a 21-gun salute and a presentation of a flag to the Neary family.
“I think every body realizes that this tragedy could happen at any time,” said Chief Gregg Massey of Philadelphia Second Alarmers.
Massey says the firefighters attended the viewing with a heavy heart, but are grateful for the great outpouring of support.
“The tremendous support we’ve received all week from the citizens both in letters at the firehouse and at the memorial. It’s been phenomenal, it really has.”
Fire officials says Neary’s body will be cremated on Saturday. Neary is survived by his wife, Diane, their three children and a host of other family members.
In Fox Chase, the mourners stretched down the sidewalk in front of the church, many were firefighters from across the country and from communities nearby. Other were friends, like Nick Gorman, who was a paramedic with Daniel Sweeney in Bucks County.
“We all talk about what would, what if something ever happened, because out job is quite dangerous, but he had voiced multiple times before a bunch of us that he always had the feeling that he would die young, and if he was ever to die in a fire to remember that he died doing what he loved.”
Fire Captain Clifford Gilliam:
“That’s a testament to the firefighter. We understand the dangers of the job, and we accept that danger. We know that we would never want that to happen, but to the firefighters we accept that danger tyo save the public and it’s a calling that we choose to do, and unfortunately, Firefighter Sweeney made the ultimate sacrifice.”
A second viewing and internment is scheduled in the morning.