Those traveling through New Jersey on Easter Monday would have noticed firefighters and first-responders lining the turnpikes, offering one final salute to their fallen brother.
According to The remains of Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman were escorted by police from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, over Route 95, across the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the New Jersey Turnpike, before arriving in New York City.
At each overpass stood South Brunswick firefighters, honoring Slutman with flags high and flashers on.
Slutman served with the FDNY for 15 years. He lived in New Jersey, with a wife and three daughters. On April 8, while deployed in Afghanistan with his Massachusetts-based Marine reserve unit he was killed by a roadside bomb.
Dominick Marino, president of the International Firefighters Association, explained to New Jersey 101.5 how the procession was planned.
“It was very difficult to coordinate exactly how and how many but the word went out all up and down the New Jersey Turnpike where there’s an overpass there should some type of first responder whether it be a police officer, firefighter, EMT, over that overpass paying their respects to that soul that we lost,” he said.
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For the members of the FDNY, their family and friends, there is no greater display of honor and recognition than seeing the teaming solidarity, showing their respects to the fallen.
“They’re our brothers and sisters. We live with each other 24, 48 hours. We eat together, it’s extended family. It’s our way of paying respects for individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice whether it be in a fire or now, with our members being deployed in the military, being killed overseas,” Marino said.
It’s doubtful that anyone passing through New Jersey on Easter Monday could ever deny the bonds between these firefighters.
“I’m proud that the New Jersey contingent stepped up today and definitely covered what we needed to cover today and pay their respects this young man deserves,” said Edward Donnelly, president of the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.
Watch the moving procession in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.