Remembrance ceremony set for Tuesday night to honor Charleston 9 firefighters

Published: Jun. 18, 2019 at 12:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston 9 Memorial Park was created to be a place for the community to go and pay their respects to the nine heroes lost 12 years ago Tuesday.

Charleston city firefighters began a 24-hour watch at the park’s flagpole and others will join in a 7 p.m. ceremony to remember their fallen brothers.

The memorial park sits on the site where the tragic fire happened on June 18, 2007.

Family and friends will come to pay respects to those nine men who died while working to make sure no employees were trapped inside the building:

  • Engineer Bradford “Brad” Baity, of Engine 19
  • Capt. Mike Benke of Engine 16
  • Firefighter Melvin Champaign, of Engine 16
  • Firefighter James "Earl" Drayton, of Engine 19
  • Asst. Engineer Michael French, of Ladder 5
  • Capt. William Hutchinson, of Engine 19
  • Engineer Mark Kelsey, of Ladder 5
  • Capt. Louis Mulkey, of Engine 15
  • Firefighter Brandon Thompson, of Ladder 5.

For firefighter Jake Jenkins, the day will be tough.

He lost one of his lifelong best friends, Louis Mulkey, 12 years ago.

“We came up in the fire service. He initially started in Summerville then he came to Charleston. I was also one of his best men in his wedding so we had a really close friendship," Jenkins said. "Also Mark Kelsey, his wife babysat my daughter as she was coming up. So we worked together for almost 20 years, at Ashley River Fire Department. A lot of close friends I lost on that day.”

At the time, the incident bore the highest number of firefighter fatalities in a single event since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

At Tuesday night’s ceremony, the nine names will be read aloud. The ceremony is expected to last approximately 30 minutes.

Parking is limited, so officials are asking those planning to attend to carpool if possible.

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