JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The lives of three fallen firefighters will be remembered forever by their friends and loved ones -- and now, their names will be forever remembered on the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department's memorial wall.
JFRD held its annual fallen firefighter memorial Wednesday, adding the names of Capt. Tom Barber, Lt. Mario Moya and Engineer Michael Freeland. The three firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty in 2021.
“A special place for those who died serving this great department and city and will be forever remembered for their choice of service over self," said JFRD Fire Chief Keith Powers.
Captain Tom Barber died on the line of duty, after serving 21 years for JFRD spending most of his career on the Westside of Jacksonville.
“After reflecting the legacy that Tom has left behind. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel," said Lieutenant Matt Avera with JFRD.
Lieutenant Mario Moya died due to COVID and spent most of his 17-year career with the JFRD in Mandarin.
“As a man of faith, Mario lived by example through his kindness through others. His ability to be empathetic with patients no matter what the call was for," said JFRD Engineer Jamie Dunlap.
Engineer Michael Freeland served JFRD for seven and a half years, and according to the medical examiner report, he died from a massive hemorrhage to the brain while trying to rescue a driver who struck a utility pole.
“Mike was a good person. Friendly and always willing to help out others. The worst thing I can say about Mike is that he was too nice," said Engineer John Grissett.
Grissett says the ceremony is somewhat of a sad gathering but also a special and unifying moment.