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Fla. FD dedicates new ladder truck to Marine killed in Afghanistan

The Palm Coast Fire Department dedicated the new E-One Cyclone 100-foot ladder truck to the memory of Marine Sgt. Zachary J. Walters

Frank Fernandez
The Daytona Beach News-Journal

PALM COAST, Fla. -- A Palm Coast fire truck will rush to fight fires and help in other emergencies while bearing the name of a local fallen Marine.

The Palm Coast Fire Department dedicated a new ladder truck on Memorial Day weekend to the memory of Marine Sgt. Zachary J. Walters, a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, according to a press release.

The Fire Department took delivery of the 2021- E-One Cyclone 100-foot ladder truck earlier this year. The truck will offer additional fire protection for all of Flagler County, the release stated. The ladder truck cost $980,000, plus $40,000 for additional hardware such as mounting brackets.

Each Memorial Day, the Fire Department plans to dedicate a fire engine to a service member whose name is inscribed in the Veterans Memorial at Heroes Memorial Park in Palm Coast and whose family received a Gold Star, according to the release.

Walters’ family and friends attended a ceremony dedicating the ladder truck at Fire Station 25. Other Gold Star families and firefighters attended the ceremony.

Walters was a graduate of Flagler Palm Coast High School, Class of 2005.

He participated in the Junior ROTC Program while at Flagler Palm Coast High School. His instructors said he always took the uniform seriously, and he passed up scholarships and job offers to instead join the military.

Walters joined the Marines the day after he graduated at age 19. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

In May 2010, Walters re-enlisted for another four years after learning that the men and women he spent years training with had been deployed to Afghanistan. He arrived in Afghanistan as part of an advance party ahead of the other Marines.

But on June 8, 2010, two weeks before his fellow troops arrived, Walters and another Marine were killed while on patrol in Helmand Province.

The U.S. is now in the process of pulling all remaining forces out of Afghanistan, in what has become the longest-running war in U.S. history. The war began in the fall of 2001, shortly after 9/11. A total of 2,312 U.S. military members have been killed in the conflict.

Walters was laid to rest with full military honors at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery.

The idea for dedicating a fire truck to the memory of a fallen soldier was proposed by Firefighter-Paramedic Christopher Strozier, who is a Navy veteran.

“We often forget why we have the rights and freedoms we do. Dedicating the fire engine to the memory of Gold Star families is a small way to show our appreciation for what they have sacrificed,” said Strozier.

Sgt. Walters’ mother, Regina Walters, and grandmother, Lorie Minor, were present at the ladder truck’s dedication. They could not be reached for comment afterwards.

During the ceremony, Palm Coast Fire Chief Gerard Forte said that they had gathered to celebrate Walters’ “call to duty to preserve, protect and defend.” Forte added, “As this ladder truck offers protection to our citizens during their calls for help, Sergeant Walters’ legacy of protecting our nation is carried on.”

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Palm Coast dedicates fire truck to fallen Marine and FPC grad killed in Afghanistan


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