On January 5th, 1988, I am sure the day started just as any other. The trucks were checked, the station was cleaned, and calls were answered. The one exception to the norm was that the Kingsport Fire Department lost one of our own. Captain Charles J. Berry made the ultimate sacrifice while responding to a reported structure fire. The apparatus he was riding on was involved in an accident and critically injured him. This was the most recent Line of Duty Death the City of Kingsport has had to date.
Charles Berry was a loving family man, a dedicated firefighter, and enjoyed fishing in his time off. One of the many family members that Cpt. Berry left behind was a 10 year old grandson, Andrew Marcus Dykes. The everlasting impression that Berry had made on his grandchild would live on and become more apparent on October 8th, 2001, when Dykes was hired at the Kingsport Fire Department as a full-time firefighter. Over the years, Marcus has received his grandfathers fire helmet, and most recently, a tie bar that Cpt. Berry had given one of his firefighters. (Read about in my post here)
Marcus shared his feelings this morning in a post on Facebook, and I would like to share that post with you:
On this day, 25 years ago, my Grandfather made the ultimate sacrifice for the City of Kingsport and its citizens. It was a terrible day that forever changed the dynamic of my family. My Grandfather was my hero and I could’ve never imagined that, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, he would be gone forever. He was everything that was exceptional in a person and I have no doubt that I am a far better human being because of the 10 years I got to spend with him. Charles J. Berry joined the Kingsport Fire Dept. in 1966. He promoted to Engineer in 1970 and Captain in 1983. On January 5th, 1988, while responding to a structure fire, he and his crew were involved in a crash on an icy road. Captain Berry was critically injured and lost to us all. I know my Grandfather loved his family and friends, loved being a Fireman and loved to fish. He made everyday that he was here seem a little better. He was the kind of person that people gravitated toward and he never met a stranger. It seems that all too often, the best of us are the ones we lose way too soon. We can never know what the day will bring… what’s waiting on us. We can only do our best with what we are given, try to make the best possible decisions and hopefully make a positive impact.
I want to say that it is a great honor to serve in the KFD. I hope that I am always willing and able to climb on an Engine and make that positive impact. I would not want to do any other job, not for a minute. It’s a special job we do. One that most people will never fully understand. The men and women involved in Fire, Police and EMS are without a doubt some of the greatest to be found and I am privileged to serve with you all. Let us never forget those who came before us and those who are no longer with us.
We need to remember that our actions today could be what we are remembered by tomorrow.