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Honor Guard keeps watch over fallen West Peculiar firefighter

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 19:00:19-05

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — During the visitation and funeral service for fallen West Peculiar firefighter Chuck McCormick, members of the Honor Guard will be close by, standing watch.

"When something like this happens, especially in our area, the fire departments from all over unite," Independence Fire Capt. Michael Veit, a commander in the Honor Guard, said.

The guard has done so since Monday evening, when Veit received a request for a casket watch for the 30-year-old firefighter, who died while battling a house fire Sunday in Peculiar.

"Somebody to stay with our fallen brother 24/7 until we got to the services this weekend," Veit said. "I had an enormous response from all the fire departments around the metro."

Within two hours, Viet said he had filled the entire watch. Each day since then, at least one dozen members of the fire service have been stationed at the Newcomer's Floral Hills Funeral Home in Raytown.

"You can't ever prepare for anything like this,” Veit said. “And when these incidents happen, it's our responsibility as Honor Guard to come together.”

Jimmy Walker, deputy fire chief with the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department, said these gestures show support for the family.

"A funeral isn't just to honor the firefighter himself for the sacrifice they made. It's as much to show the family you are part of our firefighting family now and forever more," Walker said earlier this week.

During Saturday’s service for McCormick, a team of pipes and drums also will play a big role.

"There's a lot of music and songs that are unique to the fire service,” Veit said. “Of course, ‘Amazing Grace’ and some of that on the pipes and drums come from our Irish heritage in the fire service.”

All of it will take place to honor McCormick, a husband and father of three.

"We're there to pay our respects and support the family and show our fallen brother the respect that he deserves for the sacrifice that he's given,” Veit said. “He's paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The visitation will take place at the Abundant Life Church in Lee's Summit from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m Friday. The church will also hold the funeral service, set for 11 a.m. Saturday.