Lieutenant Mario John Moya, age 52, of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department died on August 17, 2021, from complications of COVID-19.
Captain Thomas M. Barber, age 51, of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department died on June 14, 2021, after suffering a heart attack within 24 hours of responding to an emergency.
Driver Engineer Scott Edward Allender, age 51, of the City of Melbourne Fire Department, died on August 3, 2021, due to complications of COVID-19.
Firefighter Engineer Jimmy Dale Riley Jr., age 40, of the U.S. Marine Corps and Plant City Fire Rescue, passed away on February 24, 2021, after a long and courageous battle with brain cancer. Born on July 23, 1980, Riley was a native of Bartow, Florida.
Riley served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military police officer. Once his enlistment ended, he returned to Florida and became a certified firefighter/paramedic. From 2004 until his retirement in 2021, he worked as a firefighter, driver engineer, and paramedic with Plant City Fire Rescue. Leaders there describe Riley as an “amazing guy who always gave his all. He would do anything for anybody.” Because of Riley’s diagnosis, Plant City Fire Rescue has introduced new protocols to mitigate illnesses caused by firefighting. In addition to his service as a firefighter, Riley was an instructor at Hillsborough Community College. He served his community selflessly and with love, and they loved him back!
Above all else, Riley was a devoted husband and father who put his beloved wife and daughter first. He had a great smile and enjoyed most outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing. Riley was optimistic about his health challenges and made a positive, lasting impression on everyone who met him. He holds a special place in many hearts and is deeply missed. We stand with his loved ones in honor and remembrance of a remarkable man.
The life of Michael Lee Freeland, affectionately known as “Mike,” began on February 19, 1985, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was born to Michael Steele and Terona S. Freeland. He attended the local public schools of Duval County, graduating from Edward White High School, Class of 2003.
Furthering his education, Mike attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. During his tenure, doctors discovered he had a rare form of cancer in his finger, which would later require amputation and his unenrollment. This was a very challenging moment in Mike’s young life but, because of his determination, he didn’t give up and still pursued life. He continued his studies and later earned a Bachelor of Applied Science with Supervision in Management degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville.
At an early age he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He was a member of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, where he served as a member of the Health Ministry and Parking Lot Ministry.
Mike always had a desire to work. He was afforded the opportunity of working for several companies, including Winn-Dixie, Foot Locker, the United States Postal Service, NAPA Auto Parts, ADT, Caliber Patient Care, and Agape Community Health Center.
Mike’s childhood dream was to one day become a racecar driver. He had a love and passion for vintage cars and would frequently attend car shows. Mike owned an array of cars and tennis shoes.
The mission of Mike’s life began when he became employed by Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department as a firefighter. This was a decision he made to model the life of his fireman uncle, George. Above all, Mike was dedicated to helping others. He excelled with great job performance in his career, earning certification as a paramedic. This profession gave him the rights of passage to be a modern-day hero, as he would show true by exemplifying his unwavering courage and commitment to service.
He received numerous commendations for his heroic efforts, including certification in Aircraft, Rescue and Firefighting. In the spring of 2019, Mike was promoted to engineer and was studying for the lieutenant’s exam. Other affiliations include being a member of the MOBB Jeep Club.
The purpose of Mike’s time on earth was shown to his community and to the world as he sacrificed his own life for the lives of others. On November 11, 2021, while in the line of duty, Engineer Michael Lee Freeland went home to be with the Lord.
On August 4, 2020, heaven welcomed another angel when firefighter Tony Christensen lost his month-long battle with Covid-19. A Naples Fire-Rescue firefighter for 22 years, Tony continued the family tradition, following in the firefighting footsteps of his father, Morton Christensen.
The list is endless when discussing the number of individuals whose lives Tony touched. The same themes always surface when his name is mentioned—caring, giving, compassionate, generous, soft-hearted. The word “no” was not in his vocabulary. If you needed a mentor, a hand up, or a listening ear, Tony was the one. Tony opened his heart to all in need.
His kindness did not extend to just those on two legs. He was an avid animal lover as well and was always first on scene when it came to saving a furry/feathered friend in distress.
No other profession could have better suited Tony. He not only exemplified the role of firefighter, but his dedication to the community knew no bounds. He left an indelible mark not only on his firefighting family but on Naples as a whole.
Tony had a heart of gold which continues to shine brighter with each passing day. For those left behind, including his dedicated wife, Diane Phillips Christensen; his mother, Jetta; sisters, Lori and Lisa; stepchildren, Bobby and Joleen; grandchildren, nieces and nephews, his firefighting family, and all that knew and loved him, the loss is immeasurable. His spirit of generosity, family devotion, his deep infectious laugh and big bear hugs will remain in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. Tony’s love has become a memory, but that memory has become a treasure.
Brian Stephen Smith died in the line of duty on August 25, 2020, while responding to a distressed family of swimmers off the coast of St. George Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
Brian was born in Stamford, Connecticut, to Ruby and Rodger “Steve” Smith. The family moved to Everett, Washington, where Brian graduated from Everett High School in 1981. He served with the Montabello Police Academy in California. In 1986, he moved to Arcadia, California, where he met his wife, Elizabeth Smith. Beth and Brian moved to Everett and had two children, Byren and Rachael. Brian had a passion for billiards, fixing anything that was broken, and playing with his dogs, Skye and Bad Bad “Leroy” Brown.
Brian was a volunteer firefighter and first responder for the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department for over five years, since moving to the island for work. He turned his passion for fixing and tinkering into a fulfilling career as a property foreman.
Brian’s love language was acts of service. Since he was the neighborhood handyman, wherever he went, no favor ever went unanswered. Climbing on a roof to hang Christmas lights for someone who was afraid of heights, mounting a new TV for a friend, or driving to pick up a stranded neighbor was a normal weekend for Brian. He sacrificed and worked hard for his family and friends his whole life, all while making people laugh and smile. Beth always said she married him because, no matter what, he could make her laugh. Brian was always available for a call from his kids. He was just as happy to talk his daughter through a car crisis as he was to talk to his son about the game. Those phone calls and visits from his children meant the world to him. Brian taught his wife and kids how to play pool so they could play as a team, and no matter how busy everyone was, he could count on the family being together once a week.
Brian had a large heart and showed his love to his family and community through actions, so it was no surprise when he announced to his wife that he was joining the volunteer fire department. For over five years, Brian worked 6-7 days a week, responded to nearly every emergency call, and spent as much time as possible with his cherished mother, who lived an hour away. He boasted that he was the happiest he could be. He leaves his beloved wife of 33 years, Beth; his son, Byren, and daughter, Rachael; his mother, Ruby; and his brother, Russell. He was predeceased by his father and his siblings, Jaan Smith and Richard Bridges.
Senior Master Sergeant Rick Allen DeMorgan Jr. was born on October 13, 1976 and was called home on January 23, 2020 while fighting bushfires in New South Wales, Australia.
Rick was born in Apple Valley, California, not far from Edwards AFB and what was once George Air Force Base. As a young boy, Rick would frequent the area air shows with his father, Rick Sr., climbing in and out of as many aircraft as possible, always gathering as much information as he could from the airmen who flew them. Growing up, Rick knew without a doubt that he wanted to fly. Always reading books on military aircraft, he could give you any stat you asked for at any time. The ceiling in his bedroom was even filled with airplanes hung by fishing line.
Rick’s sophomore year of high school, his family moved to Vancouver, Washington, where he would graduate from Portland Christian School in 1995 and join the Air Force, making his dream of flying come true. As an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, Rick served 24 years, 18 of which were as a C-130 flight engineer. Rick was a highly decorated aviator, serving 13 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and amassing over 4,000 flight hours, nearly 2,000 of which were in combat. He was set to retire on March 1, 2020 and was on terminal leave at the time of his death.
As Rick began looking at life outside the Air Force, he set his sights on aerial firefighting. When asked if that was what he wanted to do, his answer without hesitation was, “Yep! It was my first choice, and if I couldn’t do it, I was going to look into being a hotshot.” In November 2019, Rick was hired by Coulson Aviation, making another one of his dreams come true.
Rick lived a life of service, helping others and trying to make the world a safer place. Beneath the hard exterior he showed the world was a man with a kind soul, a big heart, and a robust, infectious sense of humor that those closest to him had the privilege of knowing. The only thing Rick loved more than flying are his two children, son Lucas, and daughter Logan, who meant the world to him.
Rick is survived by his children, Lucas and Logan, and their mother, Rebekah; his father Rick Sr.; mom, Linda; sister, Virginia; brother-in-law, Leo; and nephews, Alex and Max. Rick also leaves behind numerous friends and colleagues around the world whose lives have been enriched by having known him. He was a devoted father, son, brother, uncle, colleague, and friend who will forever be missed.
“To most the sky’s the limit; to him, it was home.”
Scott Robert Neumann was born on February 3, 1967, in Loxahatchee, Florida, to Roger and Jan Neumann. He grew up on ten acres with his sisters, Tammy, Robin, and Missy. Many fond memories were made, and family stories were born. Scott was proud to be Florida born and raised. In time he became the ultimate storyteller, with his animated body gestures and boisterous voice. He was full of life and always up for an adventure. He enjoyed being outdoors, boating, four wheeling, camping, and diving, but most of all Scott loved spending time with his family and many friends. Though he played hard, he worked even harder. Sacrificing in the present in order to achieve dreams for the future was important to Scott.
The many painful experiences Scott had with fire growing up helped develop in him a healthy respect for fire. From burning the trash pile by igniting it with Mom’s hairspray can to the blazing fire in the camper.
Scott was the embodiment of what it means to be a firefighter. If anyone was ever born for the job, Scott was that man. His love for helping people and extroverted man’s man persona meant he lived to serve and enjoyed spending 24 hours with his crew. It was not a clear career choice he thought of as a child. After high school, Scott learned the electrical trade, which he would later use as a second career on his off days with the department. A friend convinced Scott to take the emergency medical technician program, and that led Scott down the career path of firefighting. After completing EMT and fire school, he began working for Brevard County Fire Department and, during this time, completed the paramedic program. Soon after, he met his future wife Stephanie and was hired on with Martin County Fire Department. It was a new chapter in his life. While becoming part of his new firefighting family, he started a family of his very own. From 2001-2005, Scott and Stephanie were blessed with three cherished children, Connor, Hayley, and Alicia. They were the pride and joy of his life.
Scott gave his all to everything he did. Early in his career, he competed in the Firefighter Combat Challenge and the Firemen’s Olympics. He also obtained the Smoke Diver certificate, as well as HazMat certification. His energy, strength, and competitiveness were contagious. Scott touched so many hearts and meant so much to so many people. He will be forever loved and greatly missed. Posthumously, Scott was promoted to captain.
Dwain Sterling Bradshaw of Pensacola, Florida, lost his life in the line of duty on November 6, 2019.
He was a career firefighter for NAS Pensacola, as well as a volunteer district fire chief at Escambia County Fire Rescue Station #1 in Bellview and the assistant district fire chief #2 in Beulah.
He was an Air Force veteran.
He enjoyed singing karaoke, spending time on his boat, fishing, and motorcycle rides with the Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club.
He was a loving husband, a devoted father, and a faithful friend to all who knew him. He loved his family and friends deeply.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Christine Bradshaw; two daughters, Baliegh Webb and Chloe Jordan; parents, Dwain and Kathy Bradshaw; grandparents, Robert and Joan Bradshaw and Jesse and Allie Margaret Stagner; sisters, Susan Pope, Becky Dunn, and Debbie Bradshaw; brother, Adam Bradshaw (Jessica); four nieces and five nephews; father and mother-in-law, Creighton and Mary Jordan; brother-in-law, Brandon Jordan (Michelle); sister-in-law, Olivia Jordan; and grandparents by marriage, Julius and Hilda Jordan and Betty Matheny, as well as many other family members and dear friends.
He was loved by many and will be greatly missed.