PHOTOS: Memorial held for 2 fallen Wilmington firefighters

ByBob Brooks via WPVI logo
Sunday, October 2, 2016

WILMINGTON, Del. (WPVI) -- Firefighters from all over the country packed the Chase Center to pay their final respects to fallen Wilmington firefighters Capt. Christopher Leach and Lt. Jerry Fickes.

The ceremony included a touching opening prayer.

"Almighty and merciful God into that place of fire duty called," said the Reverend Brad Martin, Wilmington Fire Chaplain.

The families of Leach and Fickes were presented numerous medals and honors.

We heard from dozens of speakers. The first, Wilmington Fire Chief Anthony Goode.

He fought through tears to remind the grieving families they're not alone.

"We love you, and we will always be here for you," said Goode.

Vice President Joe Biden also spoke.

He asked the families to rely on each other and the fire community for support.

"Hold each other tight because when you do they'll both be there," said Biden.

Fellow firefighters, who personally knew the men, also spoke.

We're told Fickes left a high-paying financial job to peruse a firefighting career, and jokingly spent a lot of his savings as a rookie buying his fire brothers cake and ice cream after a call.

"We all heard Jerry had a nice job, high-paying job, before he came to the fire department, but Laura said that Jerry had to pick up a third job to support our Guys," said Richard "Dickie" Lamb, retired Wilmington firefighter.

Leech had a big personality and a nickname for everything.

"Names like Uncle Buck, Baby Kyle, J-Wizzle and Buddy Boy," said Brandon Gregg, Wilmington Fire Department.

We heard he used one of those nicknames before running into the burning home where he died.

"I was told he very calmly stated to another officer we gotta get up there 'Buddy Boy', and what happened very soon after is history," said Gregg.

According to Wilmington firefighter Bruce Schweiger, Leach recently texted him a saying.

"Just remember to keep doing your job and do it well. That is what we do," said Bruce Schweiger, Wilmington Firefighters Association.

During the ceremony, Jerry Fickes was promoted to lieutenant and Christopher Leach to captain.