MARSHFIELD, Mo. – An entire city honored a fallen hero Thursday.
38-year-old Lt. Matt Blankenship of the Marshfield Fire Protection District was badly burned in a house fire in mid-July. He died of his injuries on July 20th.
Hundreds of Marshfield community members and firefighters from across the state to here in the Ozarks came to honor the memory of Blankenship.
Community members said it was their responsibility to surround his family in love and respect with this show of support.
“They are being honored with full firefighter honors,” says Southern Stone County Honor Guard Commander, Paul Nordin.
It is a heartbreaking day for the family of Lt. Blankenship, these firefighters and the community members who came to pay their respects.
“Whenever we get called to duty, we have a dangerous job,” says Nordin. “And this could happen at any time.”
Hundreds of people from the Marshfield community lined up the main road.
“Thank you for your service and sacrifice,” reads a small sign held by Maddie Phillips.
As the procession of more than a hundred fire trucks wound its way through Marshfield, a solemn silence fell over the crowd. Even the youngest understood the gravity of the loss of this firefighter and the need to support his family.
“We’re here to show support to Lt. Blankenship and his family,” says Jill Phillips. “And all of the firefighters around.”
Maddie’s mom Jil told the children and their group of friends it was important they all remain standing as the procession passed.
“As a small community, these guys don’t get paid,” says Phillips. “He put his life on the line.”
Jill made a pendant for Blankenship’s family to wear to today’s services and she says each person that lined the road shows how much the community cares.
“They are showing up more and more,” says Phillips. “Flags everywhere.”
If you are interested in helping the Blankenship family, a fundraiser has been established and T-shirts are being sold.
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