Fallen hero honored

May 06, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Firefighters, rescue workers, police officers and family and friends of Washington County fire police veteran Joseph Kroboth Jr. came together Wednesday morning to honor the fire police veteran who died in the line of duty Saturday night.

Kroboth, 59, of 17506 York Road, a fire police captain assigned to The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway, was assisting with traffic control at an accident on Interstate 81 Saturday night when he stepped into the fast lane of traffic and was struck by a pickup truck. He died of head and chest injuries.

On Wednesday morning, about 150 people attended a brief service for Kroboth at the Douglas Fiery Funeral Home on Eastern Boulevard North.


Following the service, the funeral procession, which included more than 50 pieces of fire and rescue equipment from Halfway, Hagerstown and most of the other emergency companies in Washington County, moved slowly down Northern Avenue.

The procession entered Rest Haven Cemetery through an arch of ladders raised on Halfway and Western Enterprise fire trucks.

"Our brother Joseph has gone to his rest and we assist him with our prayers," said the Rev. George A. Limmer, who conducted the graveside and funeral home services.

Pierce Damewood, chaplain of the Maryland State Firemen's Association, read the 23rd Psalm.

Trumpeters positioned on nearby hillsides played "Taps," and Hagerstown Firefighter Rick Conrad played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.

A Maryland State Police medevac helicopter did a fly-by during the graveside ceremony.

Pallbearers were members of The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway, the company that Joseph Kroboth Jr. served for 39 years.

Halfway Fire Chief Joe Kroboth III quietly said goodbye to his father.

Firefighters filed by the coffin in single file, saluting their fallen comrade. Each deposited a white carnation.

Many wept.

Maryland State Police Superintendent David B. Mitchell, Maryland State Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington/Allegany, and Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades presented commemorative flags to Kroboth's wife, Shirley A. Kroboth. She also received the flag that had been draped over her husband's coffin.

Framed resolutions from the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate were read at the funeral service and presented to the family at the graveside.

The final tribute came at mid-afternoon when members of The Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway laid a wreath in the median strip of I-81 near the scene of the accident.

Kroboth, the first Washington County fire police officer to die in the line of duty, was trying to move traffic from the shoulder of the highway when he was struck. No charges were filed in the accident.

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