Six local firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty years ago — Leonard Nathan Winslow, George “Pudgy” Davis, Raymond Bernard Somma, Adolph Oss, Robert Brown “Smokey” McGillvray, and Kenneth James Voss — now have their names forever enshrined on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial, recently installed in the middle of Clarke Plaza in Old Town Eureka.
Humboldt Bay Fire firefighters and personnel, City of Eureka representatives, family members of the six fallen firefighters and many other members of the community gathered at the Clarke Plaza Saturday afternoon for the official dedication ceremony of the memorial statue. Following the opening ceremonies, Humboldt Bay Fire Captain David Terry addressed the crowd, thanking the community and all the supporters who helped make this long-planned project into a reality.
“I’m humbled and I’m honored by the turnout that’s here today,” Terry said to the crowd. “Taking a look around at all the families that are here, all of the friends, the departments, the supporters — I’m overwhelmed. Thank you. This community has stepped up and shown that they truly honor and respect those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The statue consists of a stone base, with plaques containing the names of the six lost firefighters and is topped by a bronze sculpture of firefighter’s clothing and tools. It was designed and built by local sculpture Todd Kruper, architect Kassidy Banducci and stone mason Kyle Schlagenhauf. The Clarke Plaza was chosen as the site for the memorial, in part, because of its proximity to the Clarke Museum, which now contains a complimentary exhibit honoring the firefighters of Humboldt.
Another reason the Clarke Plaza was selected for the memorial is because of the plaza’s history. In 1959 a large fire broke out in the buildings that once stood on the site, injuring several firefighters and one resident and damaging several buildings. The structures were eventually torn down in the 1960s and the plaza was built in 1973.
During the ceremony, Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery explained that the firefighter memorial is meant not only to honor the sacrifice of our lost firefighters, but also to help beautify the Clarke Plaza and promote it as a social gathering place — something the City has been trying to do for years.
Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Sean Robertson also spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the sacrifice made by the six fallen firefighters and the risk that is taken by all firefighters when they vow to protect their community.
“This memorial creates a space of tribute and reflection for the work our firefighters dedicate themselves to and to the sacrifice that work can cost,” Robertson said toward the end of the ceremony. “In the 155 years that the City of Eureka has had an organized fire department, only six firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty. All six of these names have been enshrined on the California Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Sacramento and are now also preserved here, in the community they served.”
Scroll down for more photos of the dedication ceremony.