Washington Township Firefighter Mark A. Haudenschild II was laid to rest Saturday before a crowd of hundreds that filled The Chapel sanctuary.
Haudenschild died Nov. 11 after the tanker truck he was driving rolled over as he responded to the scene of a brush fire. He leaves behind Janet, his wife of five years, along with a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.
During the service it became very clear that Haudenschild was loved by his family, the fire department he served, the people he worked with at Comcast Cable and even by total strangers who had read about him and then traveled from Ohio for his viewing and funeral.
Family and friends of Haudenschild took up one wedge of the large sanctuary, while the rest was filled with firefighters, law enforcement and EMTs form around the area. Haudenschild's flag-draped casket was positioned in front of the altar. Resting on an easel in front of it was a picture of Haudenschild holding his son while dressed in full firefighter uniform.
Mark A. Haudenschild, his father, said he was a child who was always asking questions.
“He had to see it and once he saw it he had to know how it worked,” Haudenschild said.
Brian Gillett, Washington Township Fire Chief, spoke with both love and sorrow in his voice.
“Mark was my brother, he was the Washington Township Fire Department's brother, Mark is our brother,” Gillett said, opening his arms to the room.
Gillett promised the fire department would be there for Haudenschild's family, whenever they needed help. He praised Haudenschild as a hard worker who wasn't afraid to tackle anything, although his first love was to work on the trucks.
“Your strength and energy will be missed around the firehouse. Mark, we love you, thanks for being my friend,” Gillett said.
Mark A. Haudenschild II was awarded a medal of bravery and valor from the State Fire Marshall along with a plaque. After the service his casket was loaded into the bed of a Washington Township Fire truck for its journey to the Riverview Cemetery on Carroll Road.
Groups of Boy Scouts dotted the procession route while lines of American flags snapped in the breeze. On Carroll Road a small company of scouts from Churubusco had lined one side of the roadway with flags.
Haudenschild was given full Fire Department honors after the religious service ended at the gravesite. There was a bell ceremony, the flag on his casket was folded and presented to his wife, Janet Haudenschild, and "Taps" was played. Haudenschild's helmet was carried to each of his comrades, and then presented to his wife. An Indiana Flag was given to Haudenschild's wife from the Indiana State Fire Marshall. The last call from Dispatch was aired, letting everyone know his number had gone home. There was a helicopter fly over, carnations were laid on his casket as firefighters gave their last respects and the ceremony concluded with Gillett saluting the casket. As bagpipes filled the air with "Amazing Grace," played by the Fort Wayne Police and Fire Department Pipe and Drum Brigade, the crowd dispersed.