Although a lot of time has passed since two members of the county’s fire service fell in the line of duty, it’s important to remember them. Perhaps someday a memorial can be created to honor those fire, rescue and EMS providers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Richard L. Loller, 37 – On May 18, 1956, the Chesapeake City Fire Company responded to an urgent call to assist Galena with a fire at the Kent Oil Company. While battling the dangerous blaze with companies from throughout the area, several explosions rocked the tank farm, the final one coming about 8:30 that Friday morning. That last death-dealing explosion of a 6,000 gallon tank filled with gasoline sent part of the huge vessel soaring through the air. Flying debris killed two firefighters and the extreme heat from the flash burned a dozen or more people close to the scene. Richard L. Loller, 37, of Chesapeake City and Robert Harry Brice, 24, of Betterton were killed after being hit by limbs falling from a tree.
Steward W. Godwin, 56 — On a Sunday in December 1963, as lightning periodically illuminated the cold rainy night, five airliners flew in a holding pattern above Cecil County, awaiting clearance to land in Philadelphia. Just before 9 p.m. Pam American Airways Flight 214, carrying 81 passengers and crew was struck by lightning and exploded. A general alarm was sounded for all available ambulances. From the North East Fire Company, a unit rushed toward the cornfield just east of Elkton. On that dark stormy Sunday night, as fire company search lights illuminated the field, emergency responders searched the scene, looking for survivors. About 1:30 a.m. Steward W. Godwin, 56, of North East suddenly collapsed into the arms of Andrew Scarborough, another North East member, the News Journal reported. He passed away at Union Hospital, the death being attributed to a heart attack. He had been a member of the fire company for 18 months, according to the newspaper.
It’s important to make sure their sacrifice isn’t forgotten. If there are other fallen fighters who made the ultimate sacrifice, let us know so we can add their names to the list. Perhaps someday there can be a Cecil County memorial, a place to carve their names in granite as a permanent memorial to their service as they protected the people of Cecil County.
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