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Firefighter's Words

The following message was found posted Anonymously on the net…
something to think about
Tue Aug 12, 2008

I helped carry Jim Ramage to the helicopter that would take him on his last flight. His remains were draped in an American flag. Firefighters hovered over the remains of four that day and I had been ensuring that Jim was taken care of. He was carried with honor and dignity up a steep hill by myself, Jim Morrison and four firefighters. We put him in the back of a 212 along with another and then the bird was started and then lifted off. The familiar Whop-Whop-Whop sound of a Bell stirred the air and it brought tears to my eyes. How many times have we all heard that sound and still love it? How many times had Jim heard it in Viet Nam, flying contract, flying for CDF, and then for the USFS?

It’s been a long, tough,exhausting, painful lousy week. I have been putting this off since last Wednesday when I was told that my friend, our friend, Jim Ramage was taken from us. Since then, there has been no time to sit down and remember. So here it is going on midnight and I still can’t get to sleep because I’m remembering what a good, decent man Jim was.

What gets me is that he called me last Tuesday afternoon and I can still here his voice letting me know that he wanted to get together with me at Trinity and he was looking forward to the visit. I got the message and grinned when I heard him give his usual greeting to me which was always, “Hey Chuck, this is Jim”. I thought I would give him a call Wednesday morning and let him know when I would be there. I never got to make the call. I remember the pain, the disbelief, the empty feeling in my stomach all those years ago when I lost some good friends and that pain, disbelief and empty feeling returned with a vengeance. This could not be happening. But, it was. I will only talk about the Jim I knew.

I can remember the first time I met him and shook his hand. His head went up and down faster than his handshake and my eyeballs caged just watching him. I always loved to give him a hard time about that and he would just grin. He was passionate about doing the right thing for pilots. He was respected by all for his honesty and professionalism. Jim was a stickler for details and making sure that I knew when I was going down the wrong path. There were some times when he and I got into some pretty heated arguments but that never, ever, affected our friendship. He was the best of friends. I miss him a lot already and it hasn’t even been a week.

I had the pleasure of going to his new house this last May for supper. Diane met us at the door and what a wonderful woman. The house was lighted just right and the table was set and all was in order. Jim could hardly wait for me to get the tour of the house over with so I could go see his, “shop” in the garage which was far from a shop. I laughed as did he when he gave the tour. Jim was a blessed man. This was their retirement home and I remember the three of us talking around the dinner table that night about how Ann and I needed to come out and stay down in the “shop” and have a good visit when we were all retired. It would have been good. It was such a good time that night. I’ll always remember that evening.

To the end, Jim was helping people. Make no mistake that he was a guardian angel to some of those folks on the helicopter that day. That is the way he should be remembered; helping others to the end. Jim Ramage. A patriot, a husband to Diane for over 40 years, a father, a provider for his family and a good friend to all of us. Remember his family in your prayers. He is missed. So long Jim.