CHARLESTON, S.C. — One coached football when he wasn't fighting fires. Another cut hair at a barbershop. Yet another was known for quoting the Bible. They called each other nicknames like "Squirrel" and "Lightning."In mourning, ring the bell nine times for:
On Tuesday, this city on the South Carolina coast mourned them all: nine firefighters killed inside a burning furniture store in the nation's worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 World Trade Center attack.
"They did exactly what they were trained to do," fire Chief Rusty Thomas said.
They went into the burning building on Monday in search of two employees who had been reported to be trapped inside.
One employee made it out. The other, Jonathan Tyrell, said he banged with a hammer, hoping someone would find him before the fire reached him. A firefighter was eventually able to pull him out.
"I hugged him and told him 'thank you' over and over," Tyrell said in an interview aired Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show."
James "Earl" Drayton, 56
Michael French, 27
Melvin Champaign, 46
Capt. Billy Hutchinson, 48
Brad Baity, 37
Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34
Capt. Mike Benke, 49
Mark Kelsey, 40
Brandon Thompson, 37
It takes a special kind of courage to do what these guys do. The hours are long, the work is potentially fatal, and the pay sucks. But they do it anyway. Why? Because no one else will. And when a tragedy like this happens, we should ALL stand, with hand on heart, and salute these people who risk their lives to save others. As Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
To all who risk everything for the sake of others, let me take this moment to say,