APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The loss of firefighter Mitch Lundgaard has created a hole in the Fox Valley, clearly evident by the incredible support and emotion shown by the community Monday.
Memorial outside Fire Station No. 1. (WBAY Photo)
Fire Station 1 was Lundgaard's home away from home, the place where he was dispatched from last week on what ended up being his final call.
And it's where many people gathered Monday afternoon to honor this fallen hero.
Dozens of people, including retired firefighters and parents with small children, lined the sidewalk in front of Fire Station 1 to pay their respects.
"I work at Lawrence, and this station is the station that serves our campus. He's a member of my church. I didn't know him at church, but he's part of our church family and I thought it was important to show respect for him and all of the other first responders," Charles Schroeder said.
It was near silence along this Appleton street as close to 100 public safety vehicles and apparatus made their way along the procession route.
A lot of emotion filled the crowd as the engine carrying Lundgaard's flag-draped casket, watched over by an honor guard, made its way past Fire Station 1.
"It's very emotional," Paul Moderson from Kaukauna said. "To see someone doing their job like that and such a senseless crime like that, it's just hard to take."
But as much as these people lined the street to pay respects to a fallen hero, they were here for Lundgaard's wife and three sons.
"My husband is a firefighter, a captain with Fox Crossing, and I just wanted to be out here for support. If I was in this position, I would want people out here. It's probably the very most difficult thing this family is ever going to have to deal with, and just knowing that there are people in the community that care," Amy Allcox said.
Even though the procession continued on and the crowds dispersed, the support this community has for everyone touched by this tragedy isn't going anywhere.
"I hope that the family can know that the community is caring for them and that we'll be here to support them," Todd Vorel of Appleton said.