Phoenix
Firefighter Gary Johnstone would ordinarily be playing in the Pipe and Drum
Corps during memorial services.  Now he’s
the one they played the bagpipes for as thousands packed a Peoria church
Thursday  to say goodbye, a week after
Johnstone fell  to his death in a
mountain rappelling accident.

Colleagues
remember the 50 year old Johnstone as possessing a stern, gruff exterior but a
large heart, always willing to help anyone in need,  an a literal clown. As a fellow member of the
Corps Gary nicknamed “Dobby” said through tears, “ Gary is my Pipe Major, my
friend, and I miss him.”

Tony Sosa,
Johnstone’s medic partner says, Gary was so like a member of the family, his
own kids got excited whenever they saw him. Sosa choked up as he called his
colleague, “more than a brother”.

The service
ended with the traditional bell tolling  to salute fallen firefighters.

Johnstone
was with his son and another teenager when the trio fell from the mountain. The
accident also killed 15 year old Trevor Crouse.

–Barbara
Villa

 

 

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