'Charleston 9 will not be forgotten'

Charleston firefighters battle emotions early on Saturday morning at the site of the Sofa Super Store fire. (Tim Burnham/WCIV)

By Lia Sestric

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) --- One-by-one, each of the brave Charleston firefighters were recognized in the presence of loved ones and those in the community who remember the day so vividly. A bag piper played a melody, as memorial guests paid respects.

"I will never forget the nine. God bless their souls," said Charleston fireman Harry Hayden.

The Charleston Nine will not be forgotten. Even with it being four years since the tragic Sofa Super Store fire, time hasn't healed the heart for the families who lost so very much.

Frank and Stephanie Thompson came to the memorial to honor the life of their son, Brandon Thompson. He was only 27-years-old when he was killed in the fire. His parents say there is nothing about the day that they will ever forget.

"When I got here it was a bunch of hoses and smoke- and my God it stunk. We stood out there until seven in the morning. We were the last to leave," Frank Thompson said.

The Thompson's said Brandon always wanted to be a firefighter. They described him as passionate about his job -- knowing that it meant putting his life on the line. A life which he ultimately sacrificed.

"That's the greatest gift a man can give to a human being is to give his life for another," they said. "He would do it all again. All nine of these fellas would do it again."

Nine true heroes who put it all on the line, will be forever memorialized with family and friends.

The former Sofa Super Store is now a designated memorial site that has nine markers in the ground in memory of the brave men.

Also to pay special tribute at this year's memorial, firefighters volunteered to stand guard at the flag pole. They stood guard for 24 hours on shifts until midnight on Saturday.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about it," said Jerry Spivey, a friend of several of the firemen. "Not one day."