by Jill Bode, volunteer contributor
It was the Saturday morning after Wednesday evening’s horrific explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Travelers on I-35 pulled off at the West exit for a kolache breakfast at the Czech Stop. As always, the kolaches were hot and served with a smile—the smiles were wan, but they were smiles, nonetheless. Traffic was heavy as the travelers re-entered the highway and navigated the detours caused by what seemed to be endless construction. Saturday morning traffic was moving well until it suddenly slowed to a maddening crawl. Drivers checked their watches.
Then they came into view ahead. The Waco firefighters, flanked by their fire trucks, lined up on the bridge at Valley Mills, and they stood at quiet attention. West Volunteer Fire Dept. suffered a huge loss this week. The firefighters on the bridge were there to honor their own.
As the Dallas Fire-Rescue truck and its escorts came into view via the rearview mirrors of the frustrated drivers, they suddenly understood the gravity of the moment. Dallas Fire was rolling into town, headed for the mortuary. They came to claim the body of one of their own. Dallas Fire Capt. Kenneth “Luckey” Harris, 52, who was in West on Wednesday night and responded as a volunteer when he heard the all-call for firefighters at the plant. He died as a result.
The Waco firefighters stood at attention, showing the stoic solidarity that firefighters are famous for when they lose one of their own. A Red Cross relief worker stood on the bridge with them, tears streaming down her face. It was an honor to be there.
We join the rest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in offering our condolences to the Harris family today, as Captain Harris is laid to rest in West.