Perkins firefighters followed. Family members openly sobbed.
The body of James “Jamie” Dickman returned one last time to Sandusky, the town where he grew up and started his family.
Dickman, 31, who recently became a Toledo firefighter, and fellow Toledo firefighter Stephen Machcinski died Sunday afternoon in a fire at an apartment in North Toledo. On Friday afternoon — at about the same time Dickman’s body was laid to rest — investigators said they charged the apartment owner with two counts each of murder and arson.
The procession of fire trucks and emergency vehicles left Toledo Friday morning to transport Dickman’s body to Erie County, by way of Ohio 2. A line of Toledo and Perkins fire vehicles led the procession, followed by dozens of emergency vehicles from across the state.
At every overpass on Ohio 2, other emergency crews stopped and lined up, offering a final salute.
At about 9:30 a.m., when Dickman’s body arrived at The Chapel on Galloway Road, more firefighters awaited.
Quiet and somber, they removed the casket from the hearse.
A few shed silent tears as the casket was moved inside. In the main chapel, an honor guard took up post next to Dickman’s casket, where a large picture of him in uniform was on display. Dickman’s family was joined by their extended family of firefighters.
They stopped to remember. Dickman had always wanted to be a firefighter at a big fire department. He achieved this longtime goal last year when he joined Toledo’s fire department, after 10 years with Perkins fire.
Briefly, he had lived his dream.
Eventually, hundreds of firefighters, police officers, local officials, church members and others began to file into the church, some of them offering stories of Dickman’s wonderful personality and his obvious love for his family and God.
Over and over, people said this about James Dickman: He made you a better person if you ever got to meet him.
The Chapel’s praise band, of which Dickman was a member, paid tribute by performing contemporary religious music during the service.
Dickman’s badge, No. 50, will be retired, Toledo fire Chief Luis Santiago told the throngs of mourners.
“No one will ever wear that badge number again,” he said.
Santiago urged Dickman’s family to mourn, but as they do, to lean on the Toledo Fire Department.
The Rev. Bill Schroeder, who officiated the service, said Dickman wrote the motto for his 2013 Toledo Fire Department graduating class: “We fight with courage, we stand with pride, we honor those who gave their lives”
He couldn’t have known how true it would ring, Schroeder said, and how soon.
Dickman was buried at Oakland Cemetery.
Watch video of the procession as it passes Perkins Fire Station #2 below