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March 28, 2003

Changing Winds 
Cinci Firefighter Oscar Armstrong Laid To Rest...
By Chief Billy Goldfeder 
WithTheCommand.Com 

We just returned from the funeral and related memorial services for Cincinnati Firefighter Oscar Armstrong III. It was a beautiful day in Cincinnati and thousands of firefighters from Coast to Coast came to honor Oscar's life. 

Our Fire Department Honor Guard, as a part of 15-20 honor guards, joined the firefighters and a "massive" bagpipe band (made up of numerous different fire and police bands), several "solo" musicians, Chaplains, Preachers and family in participating in a wonderful and glorious 
service. Then, easily hundreds of fire, rescue & EMS related apparatus and police cars lead a procession that lasted for miles.

The streets were filled with many, many folks waving flags and showing their appreciation for Oscar-and the job we do. Good stuff as a part of a horribly tragic death. It was obvious that the Cincinnati FD Officers, Firefighters and especially the family and friends of Brother Armstrong really, really appreciated the turnout. It seems pretty clear from the initial reports that Oscar died in a FLASHOVER. 

He was pulled out and worked on by some SERIOUSLY brave firefighters. The scene, as described by those who were there and know, last Friday morning, was horrific to say the least and the BRAVERY of the Cinci Firefighters who tried to save him was absolutely representative of the fire service's greatest traditions and heroics. The ACTIONS of the FF's, PARAMEDICS and then, at the hospital, the U.C. TRAUMA STAFF, who all tried to valiantly SAVE him...were equally heroic. 

After all the efforts, Oscar still couldn't be saved. If he could have been saved, all the right and best trained people were there for him. As horrible, tragic and sad as it was...today was a beautiful day celebrating the life and career of one who was clearly, a fine young man who LOVED being 
a firefighter. 

At one point, as he was being laid to rest in the cemetery around 2 pm, as the preacher spoke some words...the firefighters were called to stand at attention-it then got quiet and literally, and out of no where (as it had been calm)...an obvious and significant "gust of wind" came along and blew 
ALL of the honor guard and American flags to a hard and full wave....as if he (Oscar) was being welcomed above. 

I don't usually get that "deep" in this kinda stuff but sometimes things seem pretty obvious to me. And just like there was a "reason," (as the preachers tell us, as difficult as it seems), for Oscar being called to Heaven...those winds, at least to me, seemed to represent the power "from above." 
Also, and maybe more importantly...and definitely more down to earth, the fact that: 
One minute, there may be no wind--but within a split second, the wind changes and then ya never know what it will bring. We know that (or should know that) better than most folks who don't do what we do. God Bless Oscar's family, friends and the members of the CFD. REST IN PEACE. 
We Need To Always Be Aware Of The Changing Winds.