Funeral held for fallen Chicago firefighter

November 8, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Johnson died last week while battling a fire on the city's South Side. His funeral took place Thursday at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel.

Captain Johnson's casket arrived by fire engine to the tears of his widow, Susan, and the gratitude of an entire city.

"Herbie was good firefighter. Herbie was a great firefighter," said Commissioner Jose Santiago, Chicago Fire Department.

Inside the chapel, it was standing room only. Many more watched by video feed from St. Rita School, Johnson's alma mater. They heard tributes to a man who defined what it means to serve.

"Our city is richer, our city is greater because of Herbie Johnson," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"His work here was complete. So please continue to love him, continue to fight fires," said Julie Johnson, sister.

Johnson grew up, lived and worked just a few blocks from the fire that took his life last Friday. He was South Side through and through; a big man with a big smile, raised in a big family.

"He used to say, oh my God, eight kids and then he'd just go, Herbie, Julie, Mary, Peggy, John, Jim, Ted, and Terry," said John Johnson, brother.

The city honored Johnson's widow and three children, but the biggest blessing of this day, relatives said, was the memory of Johnson's 54 years on earth.

"Herbie, I could not be prouder of you. Dying for what you loved," said John Johnson, brother.

After the casket was carried from the church, a procession of red white and blue escorted Johnson to his final resting place. It was a final salute to a man who always had his buddies' backs and never shied away from duty or danger.

"To the entire Johnson family, thank for you sharing Herbie with us. We are better for it," said Rahm.

Johnson was buried at Mount Olive Catholic Cemetery.

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