Community members, firefighters remember Richard Sheltra

- It was an emotional day throughout the small town of Pineville. Hundreds lined the street to say goodbye, including right out front of the Pineville Fire Department. It's a place where community members say a hero was born.  

"It's so sad, so sad. You just don't think about something like this happening," said Pineville resident,  Barbara Ireton.

For the final time, the body of Richard Sheltra slowly drove past the Pineville Fire Department. Fellow firefighters and community members looked on, thankful for his service.

"It's sad to lose part of your family, because he was part of our family," said Ireton.

It was a memorial service any family would be proud of. American flags greeted Firefighter Sheltra in the morning and waved proudly throughout his procession route.

"I just wanted to be here to know that I was thinking of them today," said Ireton.

"Its' very sad, but we know he's a hero and how he gave his life in just phenomenal," said Pineville resident, Jo Giles.

He was a hero not everyone knew personally, but he paid the ultimate sacrifice in a job that saves others. That thought, brought out emotion in complete strangers.  

"I am so thankful they are people like him and they need to be honored more and more," said Giles.

"I just want all the guys to know we will be here with them and if they need anything all they have to do is ask people in the town for help and they will be here to help, to talk to them," said Ireton.

Help for the Pineville firefighters could even come from above. Although Richard Sheltra will no longer ride the fire engine to every call, the Pineville Fire Department will always have someone special looking down.

"We all truly believe that he is still with us. There has been little signs throughout the week and he's been there giving us strength like he did when he was here," said Bill Suthard of the Huntersville Fire Department.

There were hundreds of firefighters at Saturday's service. Many who could not be here made phone calls sending their condolences. Firefighters say they've heard from fire departments as far away as the Philippines.

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