PDT Staff Writer
FRIENDSHIP — Mile after mile of firetrucks from fire departments all across the state, as well as from Kentucky and West Virginia, lined the roadway from Portsmouth West High School to the Friendship Cemetery, as the southern Ohio community turned out in large numbers Saturday for the funeral of New Boston firefighter Rocky Edward Dunkin, 24.
Dunkin, who was working with the Nile Township Volunteer Fire Department at the scene of an injury accident at around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1, collapsed, and later was pronounced dead at Southern Ohio Medical Center.
It was later determined by a preliminary autopsy report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, that Dunkin had a heart condition that led to his death.
Firefighters from Porter Township and Rosemount fire departments crossed their ladder trucks next to the entrance to the cemetery, then lowered an American flag. As the procession came by, firefighters from several departments, stood at attention in the sweltering 100 degree heat. As they waited, each told the story of the man who was to be buried less than a mile from his home, and directly behind the fire department (Nile Township) where he volunteered during the hours he was not on duty in New Boston.
New Boston Fire Chief Chris Bender said his department is mourning the loss of one its best firefighters.
“He had been on the fire department for about five months. He got hired in February,” Bender said. “I have known him since he was little, around here in New Boston. He played sports. He was an excellent young man. You couldn’t ask for a better person. He was great to work with. He was just a fine young man.”
The funeral was held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Portsmouth West High School, with a large procession traveling from the school to Friendship Cemetery where graveside rites were peformed by the Firefighter’s Honor Guard. In a distance, a bagpipe was the only sound that broke the silence.
After all the other firetrucks turned onto the cemetery property, a lone truck bearing the flag-drapped casket passed by and made the turn, followed by miles of friends in cars bringing up the rear.
“Every fireman in this area, including Columbus, were involved in the funeral,” Rhonda Murray, Dunkin’s aunt, said. “They had a helicopter. It was a nice funeral.”
Murray seemed to echo the emotions of many of the people Dunkin knew and worked with.
“He was a wonderful Christian boy,” Murray said. “He worked for SOMC (Southern Ohio Medical Center) for a while before he became a firefighter. He played soccer (as well as baseball and basketball). He was a coach for the New Boston soccer team. He coached baseball. He played soccer for Shawnee State (University). He was just an awesome man.”
Dunkin would have been 25 on Aug. 1.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org