By Elise Franco
If the late Cardinal Joint Fire District Chief Robert Tieche Sr. were here today, he would smile “ear to ear” at the thought of being honored for his service, said current chief Don Hutchison.
Tieche, who died suddenly less than eight hours after responding to a call in May 2011, and 84 other fallen firefighters will be honored this weekend at the 31st Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg, Md.
The two-day service will begin tonight with a candlelight vigil, followed by a memorial service Sunday morning.
Hutchison, who will travel to the ceremony with the department’s honor guard, said he can’t think of anyone more deserving of the honor.
“I think this is the ultimate honor for a sacrifice given in a 30-plus-year career to this community,” he said. “For the dedication he gave, it is well deserved and the best send-off he could ever get.”
Hutchison said their usually stoic former chief likely would show emotion at the honor and appreciation.
“I know that this would make him smile ear to ear,” he said.
Andy Frost Jr., retired Austintown fire chief, said he and Tieche had been friends since the 1960s. Frost said this honor will forever be equated with Tieche’s name.
“I’m really sad that I can’t be there,” he said. “This is good forever, and I get goosebumps just thinking about him being honored like this.”
During the ceremony Tieche’s family members will be presented with a flag, and the names of all 85 firefighters who died in the line of duty will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the National Fire Academy grounds.
To view a live stream of the events on Saturday and Sunday visit www.weekend.firehero.org/live.