Christopher Orlando among missing
BOSTON — Thousands of firefighters from across the country gathered in West Roxbury Thursday to honor one of two Boston firefighters killed in a nine-alarm brownstone blaze.
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Firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, and Lt. Ed Walsh, 43, of Engine 33 and Ladder 15, were killed in a nine-alarm fire that broke out March 26 at 298 Beacon St.
Images from funeral and wake | Watch report
Kennedy served in the Marines before becoming a firefighter. He leaves behind his parents, Paul Kennedy and Kathy Crosby-Bell, longtime girlfriend Sarah Wessmann and extended family, which includes Alex Beauzile, a young boy he mentored for seven years through the Big Brothers association.
Kennedy’s flag-draped casket was brought to Holy Name Church in West Roxbury atop Boston Engine 33. Hundreds of bagpipers led the procession through West Roxbury as thousands of firefighters from all over the country and the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder, in some places 20 deep, saluting.
“What kind of person was this guy? He was a prankster, someone said. He was a freewheeling spirit. He always wanted to be there to help someone do the right thing. He was someone who lived for others, always determined to put a smile on the faces of those around him,” the Rev. John Unni said. “One guy said he was ‘genuinely a man for others.’ He lived his life to better others.”
Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Fire Fighters Local 718 President Rich Paris will each pay tribute to Kennedy. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will perform and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley will deliver the final commendation.
Kennedy’s wake was held Wednesday, hours after Walsh was laid to rest. Hundreds lined Centre Street in West Roxbury to pay their respects.
“We had two firemen killed last year, as well, so we do know what it’s like, and unfortunately we’ve been through it,” Philadelphia firefighter Steven Weiler said.
Colleagues, friends, family and strangers came to say goodbye and thank you.
“My brother died of a heart attack last September in Jamaica Plain, and they were there within five minutes working on him, trying to revive him. That’s what they do. They’re there when you need them,” resident Tim Gilmartin said.
The line waiting to get in the West Roxbury funeral home ran up and down Centre Street. In the crowd, Sgt. Gregory Caron, a Marine, who owes a lot to Kennedy and the American Infidels biker group he helped found.
“I got injured in Afghanistan in 2011. I lost both my legs. When the unit came back here stateside instead of having a welcome home party, the blue, including Mike Kennedy did a fundraiser for me,” Caron said.
Kennedy will be buried at the Boston Firefighters Memorial Lot in Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plain.
A fund has been set up in their memory. Donations can be made to:
Lt. Walsh/Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund
c/o Boston Firefighter’s Credit Union
60 Hallet St.
Boston, MA 02124
Donations can also be made online on the Boston Firefighters Credit Union website.
BEDFORD, N.H. — When Gunnery Sgt. Bernie Ruchin was in combat on the island of Saipan during World War II, he took some artillery shrapnel in his right knee.
He didn’t know that the injury would eventually catch up to him in October when his knee gave way walking down the stairs of his home in Bedford. Ruchin tore four tendons and is currently going through rehabilitation.
Now, his fellow Marines are coming to his aid just as they would on the battlefield, but this time, they’re remodeling his bathroom.
The Building Dreams for Marines organization, a local nonprofit that does construction projects for Marines in need, is spearheading the effort.
Ruchin said he has trouble showering because of his knee injury, and the group is volunteering its efforts to build him a bathroom that is more suitable to his needs.
This is the fifth project for the organization, which has helped wounded Marines returning from recent combat missions. This time, it’s helping a Marine who served in combat for 12 years in WWII and Korea.
The renovation project will construct a new shower and put in a railing system to help Ruchin navigate his home more easily.
Ruchin said he likes to see such projects go to the younger guys, but he realized he needed some help and was convinced to let the Marines do the job.
The project is being overseen by Cobb Hill Construction and is expected to be completed by next Thursday.
BOSTON — The car of a man pumping gas at a Boston gas station was hit by another vehicle, pinning him between his car and a post for 10 minutes before firefighters freed him.
Officials say the other driver, a 65-year-old Quincy woman, told first responders on Sunday she was unfamiliar with the gas station and hit the accelerator instead of the brake. Her vehicle hit the 48-year-old Dorchester man’s car Sunday morning at a Citgo gas station at 741 Morrissey Blvd.
Carrollynne Post, who spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, rushed over to help.
“He was bleeding a lot, so I took the belt off my coat, and I just put a tourniquet on him,” Post said. “Just took my coat off and shoved it under him and just waited for the EMTs.”
Post even called the man’s wife.
“She said, ‘What do you mean he’s pinned?’ I told her, ‘Just come here. He’s fine, he’s just asking for you,'” Post said.
As firefighters worked to free him using air bags and other equipment, the gas station’s overhead fire extinguishing system activated, dumping powder onto the fire trucks and first responders.
Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said the man suffered serious but not life-threatening leg injuries and a firefighter was taken to the hospital after inhaling some of the extinguishing powder.
Boston police said the driver was not cited but they recommend that her license be reviewed.
ABINGTON, Mass. — The brother of a Massachusetts Marine killed in Afghanistan used Wednesday’s snowstorm to honor him in a unique way.
Joe Vasselian, 24, built a snow sculpture in memory of his brother, Sgt. Daniel Vasselian.
The Abington native died Dec. 23 in combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Joe Vasselian’s simple caption for the photo posted on Instagram was “love you bro.”
Joe said he’s always enjoyed making snowmen for his grandmother, who lives next door, but was inspired to make something to remember his brother in this recent winter storm.
Thousands of people lined the streets, roads and overpasses of Boston and surrounding suburbs in support when Sgt. Daniel Vasselian’s body was brought from Logan Airport back to his hometown.
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