HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Thousands of people were in attendance at a memorial to celebrate the life and say their final goodbyes to Captain Willian "Iron Bill" Dowling. The service was about celebrating his life.
Captain William Dowling, known to his fellow firefighters as Iron Bill served in the U.S. Marine Corps before working at HFD's busiest fire houses for 13 years. It was on May 31 2013, that Captain Dowling was seriously injured during the Southwest Inn fire, the deadliest day in Houston Fire Department history that claimed the lives of four other firefighters. He passed away in Colorado on March 7 2017 due to complications from those injuries.
A procession shut down the area around Houston Baptist University, where the memorial was held. It began at Belin & US-59 (I-69) and proceed along the US-59 Access Road and Fondren Drive before entering the campus of HBU.
Over 400 Houston fire fighters were in attendance to accompany Captain Dowling's helmet and his casket into the memorial service where thousands of people were waiting inside. Among them, Mayor Sylvester Turner who told the crowd, "I can't think of anyone who would serve this city better than Captain William Dowling."
Captain Dowling's wife and children were on stage during the ceremony. They were presented with two American flags--one that was flown over our nation's capital and one from his casket. He was also presented with the IAFF Medal of Honor and the Line of Duty Medal.
Jacki Dowling, Captain Dowling's wife said she was humbled by all the support given to her family saying, "He loved being a fire fighter, and I can see why, how many people turned out today to support him, and honor him, and it's such a blessing to me and our family."
Those who spoke to the crowd called Captain Dowling an American hero, but also remembered him as being a man of God. His wife read to the crowd one of the prayers he had written, "It said Lord, please use me to lead others to you. Bill is here laying in that coffin because he wanted God to use him to save you."
Captain Iron Bill Dowling will be laid to rest tomorrow at a private burial service.
Capt. Dowling was welcomed home to Houston at Hobby airport over the weekend.
At Hobby Airport friends and family of Captain William Dowling gathered to pay their respects to a man who worked for the Houston Fire Department for 13 years.
Order of Memorial Service
Houston Fire Department, Massed Pipes and Drums, All Uniformed Fire Fighters and Emergency Responders
Mark Miller, Captain, Houston Fire Department
MASTER OF CEREMONY REMARKS
Michael Mire, Senior Captain, Houston Fire Department
Garry Blackmon, Chaplain, Houston Fire Department
MAYOR OF HOUSTON ADDRESS
The Honorable Sylvester Turner
FIRE CHIEF ADDRESS
Samuel Peña, Fire Chief, Houston Fire Department
AMERICAN FLAG PRESENTATION
United States Marine Corps Color Guard
FIRE FIGHTER ADDRESS
Patrick M. "Marty" Lancton, President, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 341
IAFF MEDAL OF HONOR PRESENTATION
Roy L. "Sandy" McGhee, District 11 Vice-President, IAFF
LINE OF DUTY MEDAL PRESENTATION
Bob Royall, Assistant Chief, Harris County (TX) Fire Marshal's Office
Terry Garrison, Fire Chief, Glendale (AZ) Fire Department
Fire Chief, Houston Fire Department (2010 - 2015)
Jacki, Forrest, Faith, and Foster Dowling, Wife and Children of William R. "Iron Bill" Dowling
Terry Lowe, Engineer-Operator, Houston Fire Department
FIRE STATION 68 ADDRESS
Matt Moore, Engineer-Operator, and Members of Fire Station 68, Houston Fire Department
Dave Armstrong, Senior Captain, Houston Fire Department
THE FINAL ALARM BELL CEREMONY
Honor Guard, Houston Fire Department
Massed Pipes and Drums
Jeff Wells, Senior Pastor, WoodsEdge Community Church
Houston Fire Department, All Uniformed Fire Fighters and Emergency Responders