Hundreds of firefighters in dress uniforms joined family and friends, police officers and others Thursday in saying goodbye to Shawnee firefighter John Glaser, who died in the line of duty Saturday night.
First came the procession: About 120 vehicles, including 60 to 70 fire trucks from cities in Kansas and Missouri, drove slowly from a Shawnee funeral home to the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
The coffin arrived in one of the vehicles, passing under an American flag hanging between two ladder trucks. Dozens of uniformed people stood as honor guards as the flag-draped casket was unloaded and taken into the church. A long line of firefighters wearing black uniforms and carrying white hats filed in.
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, the church's senior pastor, described how Glaser had been "a perfect child," and "a remarkable boy who grew up to be an even more remarkable man."
Glaser served in the Marine Reserves and decided to be a firefighter to help others, said Shawnee Fire Chief Jeff Hudson.
"John's call to duty lived deep in his soul, and he showed that to us every day," Hudson said.
"John lived 'call to duty' so much that he gave his life... because he thought someone was trapped in that burning home, and he might be able to save them," Hudson said.
He was a man who wanted to be a nice guy and to help people, Hudson said. "He gave his life doing just that — John, who will be missed by all of us."
Hamilton said Glaser showed heroism in giving of himself to try to save another human being.
"Today John sees God face to face," Hamilton said.
A statement from Glaser's widow, Amber, was read in which she thanked everyone for their support.
At the end of the service, the coffin was taken to the south lawn between two lines of firefighters in dress uniform with glittering fire axes and black polished shoes. Bagpipes played and Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson gave Amber Glaser a flag.
After a three-round volley, a Marine also presented to her the flag that had draped the coffin. Seated in a chair, she held the flag on her lap under Emma, their baby daughter.
A fire alarm call went off with a sudden squall and a voice said, "This is the last alarm for Shawnee firefighter John Glaser.... John, you will forever be missed. You will never be forgotten."
As a sea of firefighters in black stood in the sun and watched, bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" and a hearse carried John Glaser away.