MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) - Citizens of Mansfield stood along the road leading to Walnut Ridge Baptist Church holding flags. Some placed their hands over their hearts or bowed their heads. They all stood in silence as the white hearse passed, led by two rows of motorcycle police and followed by a long line of firetrucks and ambulances.
32-year old Jarrod Brodnax, a Mansfield firefighter who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease after he was injured on the job, was laid to rest Tuesday morning.
Brodnax's coffin was drapped with a Texas flag and the choir pit was filled with firefighters and EMT's dressed in their formal uniforms. Brodnax's wife, Melissa, and one of his two young daughters sat in the front row.
"To Jarrod's family, especially his daughters, I say thank you for sharing your dad with us," said firefighter Steve Gutierrez from the pulpit as he fought back tears. "Thank you for letting him be there when we needed him most. Your father embodied the true measure of a good man. We are blessed that your father honored us with his gift of service. Your dad picked up the pieces of shattered lives because hi chose this profession. He worked hard so others may live."
Before he died, Brodnax wrote a letter to his daughters, one-and-a-half and four years old, which his friend Kyle Wright vowed to read at his funeral.
"My dearest Maryn and Larkyn, I want you to know how much you both meant to me," Wright read haltingly. "My wish was to watch you grow up. Unfortunately, god has called me to heaven and i will not be able to do all the things daddy wanted to do. Although you are both very young, I hope you will have fond memories of your daddy...Please remember that I will always love you and I will be in heaven watching over you.
"If you need me...," Wright paused as he tried to refraing from crying before he continued reading. "If you need me, ask God in your prayers to send your angel and I will be there."
Traditionally, fallen emergency personnel are honored by a radio dispatch to all his fellow firefighters. The final dispatch for Brodnax ended, "May the sun shine upon his patch, may the wind always be at his back and may the lord hold him in the palm of his hand until we can meet again."
A fund has been set up to aid the Brodnax family at Vintage Bank in Midlothian, P.O. Box 1459, Midlothian, TX 76065
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