John D. Horton

John D. Horton

Submitted by his Wife

John Destry Horton
Grady County Fire Service/Acme Fire Department – Oklahoma
Classification: Volunteer
Rank: Firefighter
Date of Death: March 24‚ 2006
Age: 32

John Destry Horton was born on May 26‚ 1973. He lived in Rush Springs‚ Oklahoma‚ and married his childhood sweetheart‚ Brandy Pittman‚ in 1998. Making their home in Rush Springs‚ they started a family‚ having two daughters‚ Kiley and McKenzie.

Destry worked for the Rush Springs Volunteer Fire Department for several years before moving to the Chickasha Fire Department on July 9‚ 1999. He was a paramedic‚ a Hazmat Technician‚ a PALS instructor‚ and had just been promoted to driver. He worked at Lindsey EMS and was the EMS director at Rush Springs for two years.

Destry was the worship leader at Grand Assembly of God and a youth sponsor; he loved music‚ singing‚ playing his guitar‚ and writing his own songs. On his days off‚ he refereed every possible sport there was and could often be found on the golf course with his best friend. A person could also find him hiding in a tree‚ scoping out that ‘big buck’ or hunting for quail with his bird dog‚ Boomer.

Destry gave of himself whenever the call came‚ and that day was March 1‚ 2006. He gave up a day of golfing to help the volunteer firemen fight wildfires in southern Oklahoma. In the midst of chaos‚ Destry did not think twice before jumping out of the fire truck to help a fellow fireman. He stepped into an inferno and suffered severe burns to a majority of his body. He fought for 24 days with everything he had in him and went home to be with Jesus on March 24‚ 2006.

These are bare details everyone knows. But‚ as in every life‚ there are added layers to his story:

His fire department friends called him ‘Golden Phone’ because of the volume of calls he would receive while on duty. One friend said that they could always play a good joke on Destry and he was always ready for a good game of ping-pong. How those two characteristics coincide‚ only his buddies might ever know‚ but that is their piece of Destry.

These are things not everyone discovers until tragedy strikes. And they are only bits and pieces. A few words on a page cannot sum up a life‚ no matter how we might try.

There are a million things his family and friends will treasure in their hearts: jokes‚ his smile‚ a look‚ some wisdom shared‚ or his contagious laugh. There are shared stories‚ respect‚ and a fond remembrance for a man who gave his life for another.

Destry still looks out of pictures with kind eyes‚ eyes of a man in love with his God‚ his family‚ his work‚ and his life. He looks out as a man who fought as he did to hang on to that life-a man who wouldn’t give up.

For Destry‚ death was not merely the end. It WAS the beginning.