By Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The Schriever fire department held a remembrance ceremony April 29, sounding the bell to honor a former Schriever firefighter who recently passed away.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Gambill, who worked alongside the men and women of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department from September 2006 to August 2007, was honored during a “last alarm” ceremony as Schriever firefighters, Airmen, and civilians paid their respects.
Mark Captain, 50th CES deputy fire chief, said the sounding of the bell is a 200-year-old tradition that is significant during a firefighter’s service.
“Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizen,” he said. “When the fire was out and the alarm had come to an end, it was the bell that signaled to all the completion of that call. When a firefighter had died in the line of duty, paying the supreme sacrifice, it was the mournful toll of the bell that solemly announced a comrade’s passing.”
He added the tradition symbolizes the honor, respect, and devotion each firefighter gives in their service.
Paul Macek, 50th CES fire inspector, sounded the bell five times signifying Sergeant Gambill’s last alarm of duty. A moment of silence followed the time-honored ritual.
Mr. Macek developed a friendship with Sergeant Gambill as the Schriever fire department was getting ready to transition into an all civilian work force in 2007.
“When I started my employment here, he got me trained in the logistics section, and then we just remained close friends ever since,” he said.
Their bond grew closer as they shared a passion for motorcycle riding. Mr. Macek said what he’ll remember most about Sergeant Gambill is his fighting spirit after losing his left leg in a motorcycle accident June 2009.
“I remember the way he bounced back after his accident,” Mr. Macek said. “I told him myself that I was very proud of him and that he wasn’t going to let this beat him … he could’ve gotten down about it and given up, but he kept fighting and that’s what impressed me the most about him.”
Sergeant Gambill spent 19 years in the Air Force and was currently stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. In addition to his military service, Sergeant Gambill also volunteered with the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization which offers services for injured servicemembers and their families. He was also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, an organization of motorcycle riders who honor fallen servicemembers and provide security from protesters at their funerals.