Firefighters bid 27-year-old fireman a final farewell

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCIV) - The doorway of Indian Field United Methodist Church in St. George was lined with firemen Thursday afternoon as firefighter's saluted 27-year-old Richard Willis one final time.

"We have firefighters from all over the state here to support this family at this time," said Capt. Rickie Jenkins. "So, you can tell by that people take time out of their schedule to be with the family that it means a lot."

Willis died Sunday after his pickup truck collided with a train.

"We were just shocked and were just like, 'It can't be happening," said David Mizell.

Mizell says he had a short-lived relationship with Willis.

"Richie became a Mason only about 13 weeks ago," Mizell said. "It was his dream to become a Mason. He petitioned and he was initiated on his birthday. And, he went through the degrees and we raised him to Master Mason on Nov. 8."

Willis worked as an EMT with STAT Ambulance Service and as a fireman with Santee {}and Grover Volunteer Fire Departments.

"[He was] very ambitious," said Mizell. "Very motivated and knowing what he wanted to be and working hard to get it."

Willis' casket was taken to St. George Memorial Gardens for burial on top of a fire truck.

There, firefighters performed a traditional last call where Willis' name was called three times over the department's radio system.