Halstead Memorialized At National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Bill Halstead was among those memorialized during the 2023 National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.
Halstead, the longtime chief of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company (SHVFR), died in July 2022. He suffered a fatal heart attack a few hours after returning home after a fire call. His death was considered a line of duty death, which has led to him being included in state and national memorials.
He was one of two Connecticut firefighters whose names were added to the national memorial this year. Matthias A. Wirtz, 46, of North Haven Fire Department, was also on this year’s roll of honor.
The names of both men, and 142 other male and female firefighters, have been added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) hosts the annual memorial weekend. Events for family members and fire service personnel are conducted at FEMA’s National Emergency Training Center campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Memorial weekend events this year were conducted Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7.
On Saturday, families were invited to spend time at the National Memorial for a family chapel vigil, and visit the Walk of Honor, ahead of an evening candlelight service at the National Memorial.
Sunday’s activities opened with a Sea of Blue, with fire service members standing at attention as families arrived for the National Memorial Service at 10 am.
Members of Halstead’s family were joined by officers and members of SHVFR for the 42nd annual memorial weekend.
In the days ahead and immediately following the events in Emmitsburg, NFFF annually organizes Light The Night for Fallen Firefighters. Landmarks, fire and community organizations, businesses, and homes across the country are invited to light up in red. The event begins on International Firefighters Day, May 4. It continued this year to Monday, May 7.
The family of each firefighter on the 2023 Roll of Honor was presented with an American flag that had flown above the national memorial in Emmitsburg and the US Capitol Dome in honor of their loved one.
Among those to address the crowd during the Sunday memorial service were DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and US Fire Administrator Dr Lori Moore Merrell.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company was represented by Chief Halstead’s daughter and son-in-law, Karin Halstead and John Jeltema, who are also officers in the company; President Bradley Richardson, Vice President Matt Dobson, Deputy Chief Ryan Clark, Captain Stephen Clark, and Engineer Craig Kampmier.
His widow, Deb Aurelia Halstead, also attended the weekend, as did several friends of the late chief.
Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.