Saturday Morning, I was assigned to cover one of the sadder news stories for the week. Destry Horton had passed away and his family wanted to accompany his body back to his hometown of Rush Springs. For those of you who don’t know, Destry was a Chickasha firefighter badly burned in the wildfire near Duncan 24 days ago.
Destry’s brother Darrell was there, along with a Highway Patrol Trooper and a Chickasha Firefighter. That was the procession. Just a small, simple affair, Darrell assured me. Well, the people of Oklahoma had other ideas.
Somehow word got out. Firefighters and law enforcement officers lined the route, paying their respects to a fallen comrade. This “small simple affair” was met at Newcastle by most of the fire department lining an overpass, helmets over their hearts. A single Newcastle brush pumper joined the procession.
In Chickasha, the procession took on the feel of a hero’s parade. With sirens at full volume, Chickasha Police and Grady County Sheriff’s deputies guarded each intersection as the procession twisted its way through town. Several Chickasha fire trucks joined the procession.
The parade then headed south on Highway 81 towards Rush Springs. This was Destry’s old stomping ground. He grew up in Rush and everyone around here knew him. That’s why they came. At every intersection, more fire trucks. Minco, Blanchard, Ninnekah… And some volunteer departments I had never heard of. As we approached Rush Springs, the line had grown to more than a mile. Lights flashing and sirens wailing. A small simple affair.
Several hundred people lined old highway 81, the main street through Rush Springs. Among them, Destry’s dad, other family members, his friends. Waving American flags, they solemnly watched the procession. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. The Rush Springs Fire Department had pulled the trucks out in front of the station. Some of the guys were there, but one piece of equipment was missing. The brush pumper. It seems there was a grass fire just south of town and several of the firefighters were out fighting the fire. It wasn’t a big deal, a controlled burn that got a little out of hand. But it took them away from what they really wanted to be doing.
Such is the nature of firefighting.
In Rush Springs,
Chris Lee, Eyewitness News 5