A Lasting Impression I Will Never Forget

gryder3As I was returning from a concert in Boone, NC in early April, I decided to post a status update on The “Model City” Firefighter Facebook page to see if any firefighters in the area that followed the site were on-duty, and may be interested in giving me a quick tour. I don’t typically drop in, but with nothing but positive experiences with brothers and sisters from North Carolina… I figured it was worth a shot.

As I was finishing up a late breakfast and shopping around at a few antique shops in the area, I received a short Facebook message from a brother by the name of Travis Gryder with Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue stating that he was on shift if I wanted to stop by. Having passed by this beautiful station in the mountains numerous times, I couldn’t pass up the chance to stop. One of the many amazing things that the fire service has to offer is that I can be invited in by a follower of the site, and immediately get to know someone who was a complete stranger just 10 minutes before.

The FB message I received from FF/EMT Gryder

The FB message I received from FF/EMT Gryder

On this day… it was Travis Gryder.

A clean cut young man grinning from ear to ear met us outside as we pulled into the parking lot. After a quick introduction, Travis was off showing me all of the phenomenal equipment the department had, the cache of tools, his leather helmet, and even projects that the firefighters had built/worked on to outfit the station with.

It didn’t take long to realize this guy GETS IT!

He continued to tell me the many of the unique challenges/responses the department has as we continued throughout the fire station. The day room and kitchen were spotless, the bunk rooms were organized, and I don’t believe there was a part of the station that he didn’t show off.

What had planned to be a short stop, ended up being nearly an hour of learning.

As I said, he taught me about the department, the area, and the PRIDE and LOVE for the job that he had.

Travis had been with Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue for 3 years, and was just 21 years old.

I received news yesterday that Brother Gryder was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident yesterday morning, and my heart sank into my chest. While I am not claiming to have known him very well, while I didn’t grow up with him, and while I only spent an hour or so with him on April 3rd… he made a lasting impression.

As I sit here and mourn for all his family, friends, co-workers, and brother and sister firefighters, I am thankful that I was able to talk shop with him, if only a few minutes. He smiled the entire time, and as I was leaving, he joined his crew for a water shuttle drill in the parking lot. It was very apparent that he was a sponge looking to soak up the knowledge of others.

One of his friends posted this photo to Travis' Facebook account.

One of his friends posted this photo to Travis’ Facebook account.

Rest in Peace Brother. I look forward to catching up in the future…

Travis Gryder’s Obituatuary can be found here (link).
Story about the crash is located here (link).