Henry D. Hobbs Jr.

Henry D. Hobbs Jr.

Submitted by his wife

Henry was a very friendly man and loved by all the people he met. Dedicated husband for 14 years of marriage. A firm worker for 17 years with the Division of Forestry in Hilliard‚ Florida. He loved life and lived it to the fullest by getting involved in football‚ weightlifting and track. He also coached JV football.

While working with the Division of Forestry‚ he traveled to North and South Dakota‚ Montana‚ Wyoming and Colorado to help with wildfires. He also worked with the recovery team of the space shuttle in Texas. While in Arizona‚ Henry worked with the Cherokee Indians. He completed various courses in Forestry to further his education. Henry loved being outdoors – fishing and hunting were just a few hobbies he enjoyed. Being a Forestry Fire Fighter was his way to care for the earth. Nature was his way of living.

Dennis J. Bottge

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Robert Dean Heighton

Robert Dean Heighton

Submitted by his wife

Beloved husband of Laurie‚ caring father of daughters Samantha and Olivia. Cherished brother of Jeannie‚ Jim‚ Wayne and Richard.

Born on the Gulf Coast of southern Alabama‚ Robert had been a resident of Gulf Breeze‚ Fla for the past 16 years. He was baptized as an ordained minister‚ one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1991. He regularly shared his knowledge of the Bible and God’s promises for the future‚ with others.

Laurie and Robert began dating after getting to know each other while they worked together at the county ambulance station. February 13‚ 1991 they were married. Their daughter Samantha was born in 1995 and Olivia followed in 1998.

Quick witted‚ famous for his one liners‚ his sense of humor and infectious laughter brightened our days. He was a hands-on kind of guy and a loving father to his two girls. He was an attentive and devoted husband to Laurie. Together they were raising their children to love and serve Jehovah God.

Robert was very thoughtful and helpful with his family‚ friends‚ neighbors‚ and coworkers. Whenever he saw a way to assist he didn’t hesitate‚ he just jumped right in and got involved.

He had 24 years experience in the Emergency Medical Field‚ the last two years as a firefighter/paramedic with South Walton Fire Department. Robert was a conscientious and selfless worker at his chosen vocation. His work as fireman/paramedic gave him the opportunity to show his compassionate nature and concern for others in need of help. He also had a great mutual respect for all of his brother firefighters and those in the medical community.

Robert’s AirHeart 1 Helicopter went down on 10/20/04 while responding to a call. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him and by the community he served. We are comforted by the knowledge that he is in the loving memory of his God‚ Jehovah and will be reunited with us in the future.

Benjamin Matthew Lang

Benjamin Matthew Lang

Submitted by his mother

Benjamin Matthew Lang was born on October 2‚ 1981. A quiet child‚ full of wonder‚ he was destined for greatness. A celebrated athlete‚ he graduated from Lake Wales High School in 2000. He was a member of Hope Presbyterian Church. He attended Ridge Vocation/Technical Center where he completed his Minimum Fire Standards for Professional Firefighting. He joined Polk County Fire Department in July 2001. He later attended night classes at Valencia College and obtained his EMT Certification. He was so proud of the fact that by the age of 20 he had bought his first home. He had a promising career with the fire department and looked forward to going back to school to become a Paramedic as well.

Ben loved to play football and baseball with his friends. He was an avid weightlifter. This led to many ‘in-house’ competitions with the veterans at the fire station. He collected baseball and football cards‚ comic boooks and action figures. He had a strong faith in God and an ardent love for his family.

He was the most honest person you could ever know. He was neither pretentious nor fake. If you were his friend‚ you were his friend for life. Bigger than life‚ reserved and shy‚ Ben had such a gentle spirit. One of the best stories about him was told by his fellow firefighters. During Hurricane Charley‚ the weather conditions had become too dangerous for emergency vehicles to be on the roads. All of the firemen were at the station watching the storm through the open bay doors. A dove‚ trying to ride out the storm in a nearby tree fell to the ground unable to fly to safety. All of the men stood around trying to decide what to do when Ben came out dressed in his yellow rain gear. He went out in the storm to rescue the little bird. Successful on the second attempt he placed the bird in a dry corner of the truck bay on a towel. Eventually as the storm subsided the little dove flew away. This was the kind of person Ben was. It is no wonder his chosen path in life was to give of himself. He chose‚ like so many other men and women to lay his life on the line‚ no fear‚ no questions asked‚ to help others.

On August 23‚ 2004 Ben was working overtime for another firefighter when the call came in for medical response to a seizure victim. When the fire truck pulled up on the scene the Paramedics asked if one of the firemen would ride in the ambulance to help stabilize the patient in route to the hospital. Ben hopped in the back of the ambulance like he had done so many times before. This would be the last call Ben would ever go on. On the way to the hospital the ambulance driver lost control in the rainy weather and crashed.

Ben believed as I do the reason for our lives on this earth are to become the people we are to be in our next life. The human race is too complex too spiritual for this life to be all there is. I am very proud of the man Ben had become. I know he is somewhere else and I know I will see him again. Benjamin was not only my son he was one of my best friends. In his quiet way he taught me to follow my dreams‚ to stand tall to never give up and never give in. I hope those who read this letter will take time out to reflect‚ not only on whom Ben was but who you are and who you want to be. Nothing is certain in this life we live. One never knows what day will be the last on this earth. The only sure thing we can count on is ourselves‚ the spirit within us.

As a fitting memorial to his life the Benjamin M. Lang Scholarship Fund was created through Polk Community College to help another young person follow their dream. It is comforting to know Ben’s dream will be kept alive although through someone else. Ben had accomplished so much in his short life. It has been said ‘Ben was not only our Hero‚ he was our Super Hero!’ He will be forever loved and never forgotten.

I love you son!

David A. Mackie

David A. Mackie

Submitted by his mother

The ‘Mack-Daddy’ got his nickname from his fellow firefighters. The name came about because of his strong English accent. While all the guys always had problems understanding what the heck he was saying‚ the girls loved his accent. Needless to say the ‘Mack-Daddy’ never had any problems when it came to ‘the ladies.’

David Mackie was born in Orlando‚ FL and moved to the Deltona area in 1987 from Dovercourt‚ England. He began his fire career as a volunteer firefighter at Station 31‚ when he was only seventeen. ‘Mack-Daddy’ was known around the firehouse for his humor‚ jokes‚ and his easy-going‚ fun-loving attitude. After being nominated ‘Secretary’ for the volunteer firefighters fund at Station 31‚ he took a lot of ribbing about being a male secretary so David took action. He arrived at the next quarterly meeting in a blue dress with black polka dots and had the whole room roaring with laughter! This is just one of the many jokes Dave pulled on the guys. Even after being appointed to Lieutenant and given new responsibilities‚ he still found a way to be ‘just one of the guys.’

After years with the fire department David went to work for EVAC Ambulance‚ where he became lead medic. David made a lot of friends during his time at EVAC and will always be remembered for his kindness‚ thoughtfulness‚ and selfless doing for others. ‘Mack-Daddy’ spent about eight years with EVAC and working as a medic for The Daytona International Speedway; before he decided to go back to the fire department as a firefighter paramedic.

David was at the Training Academy working toward completion of his fire standards certification when he passed away. Though he was taken from us his memory will live on in each of us‚ for we all have our own unique memories of the wonderful man who was‚ indeed‚ the ‘Mack-Daddy.’

‘For some life lasts a short while‚ but the memories it holds last forever.’

David is survived by his mother‚ Cynthia‚ sister‚ Jane‚ currently living in Deltona‚ Florida‚ brother‚ Keith currently residing in Kissimmee‚ Florida‚ brother‚ Robert who lives in Jacksonville‚ Florida and his nieces and nephews who all currently reside in Florida.

Edward O. Peters

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Wayne Mitchell

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Shane M. Kelly

Shane M. Kelly

Submitted by his wife

Shane M. Kelly was a 26 year old firefighter/ EMT. On June 8th Shane and his wife Rachel were traveling on the Florida turnpike when they came across a couple trapped in their crashed and overturned vehicle. Working diligently alongside others through a torrential rainstorm he attempted to free the injured newlywed couple in the crushed vehicle. A tractor trailer lost control and crashed into the rescuers‚ killing Shane and a local doctor and injuring others.

Shane did not receive this call over the radio‚ it was not in his jurisdiction‚ nor was he on the clock. That is what makes Shane’s story unique‚ the absence of these elements that make him a hero. The forces that prompted him to pull off the road were not driven by a paycheck or obligation‚ but a deeper sense of duty. Shane died like he lived: Helping Others.

Shane was Vice-President of Union Local 3476‚ and when not at the fire department he spent most of his free time in the outdoors hunting and fishing with friends and his father-in-law.

Because of his heroic actions Shane has been given numerous awards and honors posthumously:

Florida Fire Chiefs Award of Excellence in EMT/Rescue
Department of Florida VFW Outstanding Firefighter
City of Oviedo Firefighter of the Year
City of Oviedo Medal of Valor
Sumter County Medal of Honor
IAFF Medal of Honor
American Red Cross Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action
The city of Oviedo has named a park after Shane
A scholarship fund has been established in his name
Letters of recognition from governor Jeb Bush and many state and local political leaders

John K. Mickel

John K. Mickel

Submitted by his wife

When 32-year old Lt. John K. Mickel told someone that he was a firefighter/paramedic‚ he wasn’t just telling them of his chosen vocation‚ he was telling them‚ in large part‚ who he was. Firefighting was his way of life.

He strove to excel from the onset of his nine-year career. He graduated from the Central Florida Fire Academy in the top ten of his class and received the highest score on his Physical Agility test. He volunteered to gain experience and was hired in 1993 by Osceola County/Fire Rescue. After being hired‚ John continued his education to help better serve residents and businesses of his community. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1997.

Fellow firefighters describe him as being a great leader: dedicated‚ brave‚ and someone who always put 120% effort into whatever he did.

John was a proud member of Osceola Local 3284 and the FOOLS. He attended several Fire Department Instructors Conferences in Indianapolis‚ Indiana.

Above all‚ though‚ he was a dedicated husband and father who took great pride in his family. He left behind his wife of nearly eight years‚ Carlotta‚ and their two young children‚ Dillon and Mallory. John learned the importance of family early in his life from his parents‚ Keith and Catherine Mickel‚ and sister Meredith.

After God‚ family and firefighting‚ John loved salt water fishing‚ especially in his 13 _ foot ‘offshore’ Boston Whaler. He was an avid outdoorsman who also enjoyed surfing‚ hunting‚ scuba diving and sports.

John had presence. If there was a group of people‚ he was usually in the middle of them. A true Irishman‚ he was the life of the party‚ never leaving without talking to everyone and usually the last to leave.

He lost his life in a flashover while participating in a live burn training exercise on July 30‚ 2002.

John always said‚ ‘You have to be happy.’ And he set the example for those who knew him by living life to the fullest and loving just as much.

Daniel Neil Woodward

Daniel Neil Woodward

Neil was the ultimate public servant. A volunteer firefighter since he was 13 years old‚ a sheriff’s deputy for 8 years‚ and a nationally-registered EMT the last year and a half.

At the age of 11‚ he was following the firefighters around the station in Destin‚ Florida. At the age of 12‚ he became a junior firefighter‚ and by 14 he was the Lieutenant of the junior firefighters. Neil stayed with the Destin Fire Department for many years‚ becoming a paid firefighter after he graduated from high school.

Public service was a big part of his life after his family. Neil had three children‚ Kathryn‚ Cody‚ and Molly‚ and two stepchildren‚ Ashley and Brandon. He was a great father and a great husband to his wife Cindy. Neil was always giving of his time and his abilities‚ rarely thinking of himself. Thirty-two years was not enough time for all that he had to give.