A Triple Community Firefighter who died in the line of duty last year will be honored at a national memorial service today.
Firefighter Jason Keith Hensley, 40, will be one of 103 firefighters honored at the 37th National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, according to a release from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Hensley died on Oct. 9, 2017, after he was struck and killed by a passing driver while clearing debris from a road after Hurricane Nate, the release said. At Triple Community Fire Department, Hensley is missed every day, said Assistant Chief Joshua Smith.
“It’s been a long road,” Smith said. “We think about Jason all the time. We lost a very good person and a big asset to our department.”
Relying on each other has been a main way that TCFD has grieved since Hensley’s death.
“We may not be family by blood, but we’re a family and we’re a very close family,” Smith said. “A lot of people don’t understand that if they’ve never been in emergency services or in the military, but it’s a very close - knit family.”
A group of TCFD members will attend the memorial service in Maryland on Sunday, Smith said. Hensley’s family members also will attend the service.
“We’re going to be there with the family to support them through the whole process,” Smith said. “It’s something that you hope and pray never happens, and hope and pray it never happens again.”
Support is what helped TCFD grieve after Hensley’s death, especially the outpouring of support they received from other fire stations that had experienced line of duty deaths, Smith said.
“From all over the state, we had fire chiefs that had experienced line - of - duty deaths come to our station within a day or two after it happened,” Smith said. “We’ve tried to continue that and tried to offer our support.”
That support is something TCFD gave back when a firefighter in another county in North Carolina died in the line of duty a few months ago. TCFD members went to show their support and help the family and station in any way they could.
“We went down before the funeral just to support that department and the family,” Smith said. “That’s how we got through it, just the outpour of support.”
Hensley is one of 80 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2017, and one of four North Carolina firefighters who died in the line of duty who will be honored at the event, the release said. A candlelight service will be held on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday’s memorial service will begin at 10 a.m., the release said. For a live stream of the events, visit live.firehero.org.
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 828-432-8941.