NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Fire Capt. Ken Dammand stood in his dress uniform, his eyes reddening, as the families of nine dead firefighters filed into a packed coliseum for their memorial service Friday.
Dammand and a colleague were among thousands of firefighters who traveled from across the country to mourn the Charleston firefighters killed in a furniture store blaze Monday night.
In the coliseum, nine coffins sat before large photos of the fallen firefighters: Capt. William "Billy" Hutchinson, 48; Capt. Mike Benke, 49; Capt. Louis Mulkey, 34; Mark Kelsey, 40; Bradford "Brad" Baity, 37; Michael French, 27; James "Earl" Drayton, 56; Brandon Thompson, 27; and Melvin Champaign, 46.