Service honors fallen firefighters

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — After the deaths four years ago of fellow Salisbury firefighters Vic Isler Sr. and Justin Monroe, Capt. Bobby Fox penned some of his feelings from that day in a poem he titled, “Lost Brothers.”
And as we crawled through this black darkness to try and find the others,
all we would find was the lack of time and the pain of lost brothers.
And all the days that followed this endless dream,
we would see time as just a blur.
So we would honor our brothers but add to the pain with lots of hurtful words.
The families who lost would pay the ultimate cost for the safety of future brothers.
Their payments would be the lonely eternity of suffering and unknowing.
Chaplain Wendell Bradley of Responder Care read these words this morning at a memorial service noting the fourth anniversary of the March 7, 2008, Salisbury Millwork Co. fire in which Isler and Monroe died.
A brief, quiet ceremony took place at the Salisbury-Rowan Firefighters Memorial.
Family members for both Isler and Monroe aided in the placing of wreaths, which will remain throughout the day at the memorial, located at the southern end of Chestnut Hill Cemetery, 1400 S. Main St.
“We should never forget and should not expect to,” Bradley said in a closing prayer.
Mayor Paul Woodson said Isler and Monroe made the ultimate sacrifice and demonstrated the utmost bravery in performing their jobs that day.
“This city will always hold them in our hearts,” Woodson said.
It was important to remember Isler and Monroe, plus all the men and women who put their lives on the line every day, the mayor added.
Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell said up to 40 more firefighters would have been at the ceremony, except they were responding to a morning fire at Wiltshire Village. An apartment was burned out, but no injuries were reported.
The ceremony also included the raising of the U.S. flag, followed by lowering it to half-staff.
A fire bell, draped in black, chimed five times in three distinct sets, signifying the “last return home.”
Fox also serves as chief of Miller’s Ferry Fire Department, where the young Justin Monroe, only 19 when he died, was also an active volunteer. Both he and the 40-year-old Isler left strong impressions with their fellow firefighters.
Fox’s poem ends this way:
And the years come and the years go,
but these memories I fear I will always know.