Thousands of firefighters turn out for Chiapperini's funeral
Thousands of firefighters from across the country came to pay their respects. YNN's Katie Morse tells us why they say this death struck home for many.
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WEBSTER, N.Y. -- They came from near and far. First responders, police, firefighters and EMTs traveled from New York to Los Angeles to pay their respects to a fallen comrade.
By the time Lieutenant Mike Chiapperini's body arrived, thousands of men and women lined the high school parking lot.
"It's still surreal. A lot of guys are standing out here talking and thinking he didn't go this way," said Joe Lavey of Sweeney Hose Fire Company.
"It's very scary knowing that you have to battle fires to being with and the danger of that and that's not the reason they died. It's unbelievable," said Robert Malatesta of the Wallkill, N.Y. Fire Department.
They stood unified and in formation, their badge numbers covered with black as a final sign of respect for a man who put his life on the line and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“It just denotes that we've lost one of our own in the line of duty. And it lets everybody know that we're in the mourning process," said Mark Lorack of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
And the firefighters from across the country will wear those mourning badges for days. They say it's a sign of solidarity. No matter where they are or where they're from, they're one.
"We consider ourselves a brotherhood. We stand behind each other through everything and today we braved the cold to come out and show our support," said Eric Orr of the Wallkill, N.Y. Fire Department.
Lorack said, "The magnitude of the event, just knowing that anything can happen to us when we go to work. It's important to know we come from all over the country to support our brothers and it could be me."
In the cold, clear winter day, a final salute.