About 500 people -- half of them uniformed firefighters -- attended a memorial ceremony on Wednesday for fallen firefighter Robert W. Hamel, a member of Clark County Fire District 6 since 1990. His cause of death is listed as cancer and considered a "line of duty" death by the district.
He died July 25, fewer than two weeks before his 60th birthday.
An American flag was draped over his casket, which was placed at the back of an antique fire engine called Engine 0. A funeral procession began Wednesday morning at a downtown Vancouver funeral home and ended at Crossroads Community Church in Hazel Dell. Six firefighters carried the casket off the engine and brought it into the church. The flag was removed, folded and presented to Hamel's wife of 39 years, Renae, by Fire Chief Jerry Green. It was one the most moving parts of the service, said Sarah Mitchelson, public education coordinator for District 6.
Schuyler Hoss, a representative of the governor's office, presented the Hamel family with a certificate from the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. A brick inscribed with his name will be placed in the walkway of the National Fallen Firefighters Monument, also in Emmitsburg. The family also received the International Association of Firefighters Medal of Honor on his behalf.
A final bell rang for Hamel. Toward the end of the ceremony, Vancouver Firefighters Pipes and Drums played "Amazing Grace."