After everything that's happened over the past several days, the staff of the Mountain Home News wanted to take some time to personally honor some very courageous individuals in this community.
The first were Brandon Hines and Ray Chiarella. Without regard for their own safety, they selflessly put their lives on the line to save the life of another.
While Catherine Ferguson remains hospitalized in very serious condition, it's clear that the efforts of these two men made the difference in whether she lived or died after her family's home caught fire early Sunday morning. Mountain Home Fire Chief Phil Gridley emphasized that mere seconds likely determined whether her fate was one of survival or that of another fire statistic.
Please note that the Mountain Home Fire Department and this newspaper do not endorse these types of actions for untrained individuals. Statistically, the odds were stacked against these men, given the amount of smoke and blistering heat they faced to rescue that woman. When in doubt, it's best for people to remain outside of a burning home and allow our fully trained and equipped fire crews to lead these types of rescues.
But in this case, instinct overruled the need for their own safety. As a result, we are proud to report this successful rescue.
Meanwhile, it's equally important to applaud the men and women of the Mountain Home Fire Department. Throughout the year, members of this volunteer organization willingly put their lives on the line to help those in similar, dire circumstances. Within the past several weeks, they've been called out to battle a number of house fires in the Mountain Home area.
As firefighters will likely tell you, building fires like these represent a tremendous amount of danger. In addition to the blinding smoke and heat measuring in the hundreds of degrees, fires are horribly unpredictable and equally unforgiving for those that are distracted for even a moment. While they will never admit it themselves, these men and women will always remain heroes in our own hearts.
Another group of heroes we want to honor this week include the men and women of Mountain Home Air Force Base. Among those we want to recognize by name is Capt. Francis "Piston" Imlay, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to his county.
During a mission over the skies of southwest Asia, Imlay died when his F-15E Strike Eagle crashed just miles from his military base. The weapons system officer that flew with him sustained injuries related to the accident, and it's not known at this time if that individual will return to duty or return home.
A family man with two small children, Imlay was one of nearly 300 people from the base serving overseas in support of U.S. military operations in southwest Asia. For these Gunfighters, it was their time to deploy to the region in what's become a regular routine for the members of our armed forces.
Those who have served in the U.S. military understand the sacrifices their country demands from them. These military people serve thousands of miles away from their family and friends, connected only by regular e-mail messages and the occasional phone call.
These selfless men and women miss their children's birthdays, school activities and graduations. They won't make it to weddings, class reunions, anniversaries and other family milestones. We can never do enough to thank these military families for the sacrifices they also deal with while their loved one is serving so far from home.
Imlay's death comes just days after the city of Jerome paused to honor the memory of another fallen hero. Army Sgt. Daniel J. Brown died from wounds he sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
Like so many others, Brown, Imlay and so many others were drawn to a life of service, which changed drastically following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. They didn't do it to become famous or for recognition. They did it out of their love of this country and what it represents.
But from our perspective, each and every one of these individuals are still heroes.
-- Brian S. Orban