By Pam Dudding, Contributing Writer
People who serve others often know no bounds to honor their comrades. The Salem Fire and EMS Truck 1 and the Roanoke Fire and EMS Ladder 2 recently showed this with extreme measures on Thursday, September 16.
As the fallen soldier Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, was escorted on Interstate 81 with his procession of vehicles, local Fire and EMS made sure that this area showed their respect and honor in a massive way.
The Salem Police Department assisted by blocking the Red Lane Bridge that crosses I-81 in north Salem at 10:15 a.m. so that the Fire and Rescue teams could post a huge 25-foot flag in between their two ladder trucks as well as have many who stood on the bridge to salute as Sgt. Knauss’s procession drove under the bridge.
Leading the processional through Virginia to take Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss to the Arlington National Cemetery were the State Police Motorcycle Troopers.
Knauss was amongst the other 12 military service persons who were killed in Afghanistan on August 26 during the attack on The Kabul Airport. He was only 23, yet a soldier who gave his life.
Salem Fire Chief John Prillaman shared that they only found out about the processional the evening before.
“It came from another chief, south in Abington. He found out about the escort and sent the information to the Virginia State Fire Chiefs. It escalated from there,” he said. “Others agreed to do additional intersections, with hopes that on every underpass there would be a fire fighter and a flag.”
Prillaman added, “We honor a fallen fire fighter with the raising of the flag on our ladder truck.”
Pictures were posted on The City of Salem – City Hall Facebook page. Countless comments flooded with honorable thank you’s to the first responders, Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss for his service and prayers for his family.
“We are honored that we could pay tribute to him in this manner,” they shared.
Other comments included: “Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice, Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss; Thank you! We stand together with our fellow man, Very proud of our collaborative efforts of our community in honoring this brave fallen soldier,”
“Wow, what a beautiful tribute that was so deserved. A life lost in an unnecessary and tragic way, So, proud to be from a town where heroes get the respect they deserve! Thank you for doing this for him,”
“Thank you, Salem for honoring Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss. Makes me proud to live in Salem with my family. Thank you, Staff Sgt. Knauss for your service and my families’ hearts are with you and your family. May Sgt. Knauss rest in peace., Pure class,”
“Thank you, Salem and Roanoke 1st Responders. God bless you Sgt., Wow, what a heartfelt tribute. Thank you, Salem and Roanoke, for honoring this hero.”
Craig County’s EMS Director Jim Cady said, “Unfortunately, we did not know he was passing through the Valley. We send our respects, and we also thank those agencies that did show honor to Him.”
Solemn respect filled the air after the procession passed, taking ten of the men and women who just held a heartfelt salute, to fold the American flag.
“Anytime we get a chance to honor someone that gave their life, it is huge for all of us,” Prillaman said before adding, “We are first Americans. It is a great opportunity to pay our respects to someone like that, being a part of Virginia’s fire service coming together, all up the interstate corridor.”