A hero's sendoff: "Daryl died doing what he loved." - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

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A hero's sendoff: "Daryl died doing what he loved."

Colleagues salute Gordon's casket as it's carried into the cathedral. (Credit: Glenn Hartong) Colleagues salute Gordon's casket as it's carried into the cathedral. (Credit: Glenn Hartong)
Hundreds watch Gordon's casket being carried out of the cathedral. (FOX19/D.Reed) Hundreds watch Gordon's casket being carried out of the cathedral. (FOX19/D.Reed)
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati's first firefighter to die in the line of duty in 12 years was given a hero's sendoff Wednesday on the fire department's 162nd birthday.

Daryl Gordon was celebrated in a service that drew hundreds to St. Peter in Chains Cathedral as a "teddy bear" and "firefighter's firefighter," a role model who was quick to mentor, laugh and help everyone he encountered.

Above all, Gordon, 54, who died Thursday trying to rescue adults and children trapped in a  burning Madisonville apartment building, put others first and felt the call of duty since childhood when he chased fire trucks on his bike.

"Daryl Gordon was a hero. Daryl Gordon touched the lives of most of us here today," said Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun in opening remarks. "We are all better because we knew him. We will keep his memory alive by practicing the lessons he taught us."

"Mayday, mayday, a firefighter is gone. Mayday, mayday, our friend Daryl is gone," Mayor John Cranley told the pew-packed crowd. "Mayday, mayday, how do we move on? Cincinnati is heartbroken wondering how to move on."

"Daryl died doing what he loved," said Matt Alter, president of Cincinnati Fire Union Local #48. "Twelve people are alive today because of the actions of brother Daryl Gordon and his fellow firefighters."  

Gordon's family said he dreamed of being a firefighter his entire life.

"He loved that job," said John Gordon Sr. "He loved that job, from 9-years-old, when he was chasing fire trucks on his bike."

The Rev. Royce Winters presided over the non-denominational service that also was broadcast live on Fountain Square.

“No one wants to die early, but God has given us the days he has given us and we must use them in his servitude and as we have heard today, Daryl was a servant," Winters said. "We live and die for the Lord. Daryl was a man and he knew who he was. Not only did he know who he was, he shared that with others and it impacted their lives in a way they would, too. We thank God for this wonderful example of a man who impacted lives."

Gordon's American flag-draped casket rode on the back of Engine 14, which he drove most of his 30-year career, to his final resting spot at Oak Hill Cemetery on Princeton Pike in Springdale. 

A graveside service led by Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local #48, included a final call and firefighter's prayer.

"This is a graduation. At graduations, we cheer and we celebrate for moving on to the spirit life because Daryl's there in heaven with God,” said Kenyatta Smith with the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters.

A reception followed at Duke Energy Convention Center.

Hundreds of firefighters and residents, some with small children, lined the streets early Wednesday as the funeral procession left fire headquarters at Fifth Street and Central Avenue and slowly wound up to the cathedral off Plum and Eighth streets.

In all, some 700 Cincinnati firefighters and more than 100 fire apparatus participated in the procession. Cincinnati police assisted with a motorcade.

Gov. John Kasich asked that state and U.S. flags be flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset in Gordon's honor.

#CFDGordon emerged on social media and is being used to pay tribute to the fallen firefighter.

Firefighters from Columbus and local agencies such as Anderson and Delhi townships covered shifts for Cincinnati Fire department while CFD members pay respects to their brother.

Memorial donations are being accepted at Kemba Credit Union.

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