Fallen firefighters described as 'strong, amazing men' during public memorial service

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by KHOU.com staff & Associated Press

khou.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 6:32 AM

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Emergency responders from Houston and all across Texas joined other mourners to remember two Bryan firefighters killed in an accidental blaze over the weekend.

Hundreds of friends, family, and fellow firefighters packed into Central Baptist Church in College Station for Bryan firefighters Lt. Eric Wallace and Lt. Gregory Pickard. Both died Saturday of injuries suffered while fighting a blaze at an unoccupied Knights of Columbus Hall.

At the public memorial service, friends spoke on behalf of the firefighters’ families.

“If anyone, anyone, deserved this type of recognition for the kind of man that he was and the life that he led, then it’s Lt. Greg Pickard and Eric Wallace,” said former Bryan Fire Chief Mike Donoho.

“When I rode with Eric I never had to worry about who had my back,” said a cadet friend. “I never had to worry about coming across something we couldn’t handle.”

“They were physically strong but mentally, emotionally they were just amazing men,” said April Montelongo. “They were always there for their coworkers. There’s not a word I can say to describe them.”

That support included many Houston-area firefighters, who staffed the Bryan and College Station fire houses during the memorial service.

Leading up to Wednesday morning's memorial service, hundreds of firefighters participated in a procession through the streets of the Central Texas community. Bagpipes played as members of the public lined the streets. Around 150 to 200 firetrucks took part in the procession, reported KBTX-TV.

“There were just so many people,” said Anna Barrentine, the wife of a firefighter. “Just to see all the cars and people actually coming from as far as Canada – it’s admirable that they had this much support for our small town fire department.”

Fire Chief Randy McGregor said the fire that broke out Friday night in the kitchen area was caused by failure of an electrical cord.

Two other firefighters were hurt. Ricky Mantey Jr. and Mitchel Moran remained in serious but stable condition Wednesday at a Galveston hospital. McGregor says both have improved and are able to stand and walk short distances.

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