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Family, friends honor memory of Jacksonville fire lieutenant who died from COVID-19

Lieutenant Moya of Rescue-42-B served JFRD for 17 years. The agency says he is survived by his wife Christina and children Bobby, Bella, and MJ.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Friends and family gathered Thursday for a funeral for Lieutenant Mario J. Moya who died from COVID-19 earlier this month.

He was a member of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

Lieutenant Moya of Rescue-42-B served JFRD for 17 years. The agency says he is survived by his wife Christina and children Bobby, Bella, and MJ.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Powers spoke following the ceremony, saying that the funeral revolved around the theme of service.

He said he was proud to stand by the men and women who are out in the community keeping us safe each day. Powers said that while it's a sad time, it's also so a proud one.

When asked what he will miss the most about Lt. Moya, Powers got emotional.

"That big smile," he said. "I wish God would have blessed me with a smile like he blessed Mario."

While service was underway in the church, one man carrying the American flag showed up in solidarity. Leo Heaton stood outside church grounds, saluting while the procession to passed by. Heaton said he knew Moya as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He described the veteran as a man with a giving spirit. He also expressed how much he will miss Moya's smile.

"He probably would've given you the shirt off his back if you needed it," Heaton said. 

Following the ceremony, there was a procession to the Jacksonville National Cemetery.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Lieutenant Moya unselfishly served this community while continually exposing himself to the very virus that cost him his life," JFRD previously told First Coast News.

“It's extreme grief and sadness,” said Chief of Rescue David Castleman, with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. 

“Just a big guy with a big smile. He embodied what this department is. We’re public servants and the men and women, they do their best."

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