The fallen firefighter's fiancee and son along with dozens of firefighters were present at the funeral to honor the fallen soldier.
The devastating bushfire in Australia shook the entire world. The people at the forefront of the calamity were the brave firefighters, who put their lives on the line so others could be rescued. Among those who lost their lives are firefighters Geoffrey Keaton, 32, and Andrew O'Dwyer, 36.
Geoffrey and Andrew died when a falling tree hit their vehicle, causing it to overturn on December 19, 2019, according to CNN. The duo had been battling the large Green Wattle Creek blaze near the town of Buxton, says News.com.au. Both men had young children, who will only hear of their dad's bravery as they grow up.
Geoffrey's 19-month-old son, Harvey, received a posthumous medal to honor his father's bravery on January 2, 2020, as his father's colleagues looked with barely controlled emotions. Powerful photos posted by New South Wales (NSW) Fire Service show the toddler—dressed in a firefighter outfit and with a pacifier in his mouth—stood in front of NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who bent down to the child's height. The fire service commissioner pinned the medal for Commendation for Bravery and Service to his chest. "Today the NSW RFS family farewelled one of their own, with the funeral of Geoffrey Keaton held in western Sydney earlier today," an NSW Rural Fire Service Facebook post read. Many people commented on the post calling the fallen firefighter "heroic."
His fiancée Jess Hayes and son Harvey were part of the procession along with dozens of firefighters who were present to honor their fallen brother, according to DailyMail. They formed a guard of honor to salute the 32-year-old's coffin at Pinegrove Memorial Park in Minchinbury. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also present at the funeral, according to BBC. He said he was there to "remember and give thanks for the life and service of Geoff Keaton."
At the funeral, a photo of a coffee mug saying "Daddy, I love you to the moon and back!" was seen on the coffin. Among the photos released by the NSW Rural Fire Service was an emotional image where the toddler's mother held him while they stood by the coffin.
Andrew O'Dwyer's funeral took place on January 7 where his toddler daughter was given the posthumous medal of honor.
The bushfires claimed the lives of millions of animals and destroyed thousands of homes. There were dozens of people who went missing and millions of acres of land were destroyed as well. Thousands of firefighters, many of whom are unpaid volunteers, fought the fires for months which finally ended in May 2020.
Celebrities like Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban, Pink, and Chris Hemsworth pledged millions to the rural fire services and the relief funds.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 8, 2020.