The sharp, red sheen of a Chicago Fire Department ladder truck and its flashing lights, parked outside an Oak Lawn funeral home, pierced the gray backdrop of this chilly winter day.
At 3 p.m., Chicago firefighters hoisted an American flag into the sky to mark the start of visitation of 12-year veteran Edward Stringer, who was killed in the line of duty.
Stringer, 47, died last week along with Chicago firefighter Corey Ankum, while battling a blaze at an abandoned South Side building after the roof gave way.
"Everybody that worked with him knew that he always brought a smiled to everybody's face, and that's so obvious when you see his family members and the pictures from his personal life. Every picture he's in, he's smiling," said Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff, after spending time inside the Blake Lamb Funeral Home supporting the Stringer family.
Firefighters from Michigan and Wisconsin travelled here by bus to pay final respects. They're members of the Axeman Firefighters Motorcycle Club. Stringer, the father of two adult children, loved to ride himself. "When you lose a member, it's just in our hearts and our blood that we all stick together, especially in a situation like this," said Bob Kowalski, Director of Chicago Chapter 1.
Lou Adinovich, a Korean War veteran didn't know Stringer, but came out for this final salute. He says it's important to honor those who lose their lives serving the public. "I do it from my heart"
"Its very, very hard on the family and we knew it was going to be hard, but it's not (truly) evident until you get here and you see the expressions of their love and they're gonna miss him," Hoff said.
Meanwhile, a wake is set for Wednesday for firefighter Corey Ankum at Apostolic Church of God from 2 - 8 p.m. His funeral is Thursday morning.