HFD's Cpt. Dowling wins award for 'courageous acts'

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by Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on December 7, 2013 at 8:50 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 7 at 9:00 PM

TOMBALL, Texas – Houston Fire Cpt. Bill Dowling, hurt during a deadly motel fire in May, won an award for courageous acts. Liberty Mutual presented Dowling with a plaque in his home Saturday morning.

It is his plaque and his award for courage, sacrifice and the kind of heroics Cpt. Dowling’s son, daughter and wife, Jacki, had to smile over.

“I would give it all back, give it all back to have him the way he was,” Jacki Dowling said.

Her husband did no such thing. In fact, he did something that inspired every person in his family room.

“It was a very emotional moment for us,” Kathy Huynh, a representative for Liberty Mutual, said.

Her company honors more than 100 firefighters nationwide. Each honoree gets a plaque, and two are selected for special awards. Co-workers at the Houston Fire Department shared Cpt. Dowling’s story, which earned him a plaque.

“We’re very proud of him,” Houston Assistant Fire Chief Beda Kent said. “We’re very supportive of (Cpt. Dowling’s) recovery efforts and (are) here for his family.”

In May, Cpt. Dowling responded to a motel fire in southwest Houston. Four firefighters died and 13 others were hurt. Dowling lost his legs. He has physical therapy three times a week but cannot speak yet, his wife said.

So, when handed his award from Liberty Mutual, no one, not even Jacki, could tell you what he felt. Then, Cpt. Dowling did something that made everyone clap.

“It’s like a drug, give me more,” Jacki Dowling said.

It was emotion. Cpt. Dowling cried while trying to say thank you with hand signs. It is the kind of thing his wife lives for these days.

“Because it’s a piece of him that’s coming through all that brokenness that he has right now,” Jacki Dowling said. “Just to see that little ray of sunshine, it makes me, it just gives me that boost I need when I get down. (It’s) that yes we’re going to do this. You are going to get better.”

He is doing it with help from friends, family and strangers.

“We’re just so proud of him,” Jacki Dowling said.

If he wins the national award from Liberty Mutual, Cpt. Dowling will win a trip to Disney World for his family. His Fire Station 68 would get a $10,000 grant.

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