Cape Coral firefighter laid to rest; Hundreds attend memorial service for Michael Camelo Jr.
The memorial service for Cape Coral Fire Department Engineer Michael Camelo Jr. commenced Thursday morning at St. Andrew Catholic Church among hundreds of loved ones and first responders.
A motorcade procession from Gendron Funeral Home to the church went down Southeast 15th Place, where two CCFD trucks hung a large American flag between the erect ladders high overhead.
His casket, also draped in an American Flag, was carried on the back of Cape Coral Engine 3, the truck he worked on as a firefighter for so many years before his recent promotion to engineer.
Two firefighters stood on top of the engine with Camelo, as four other comrades kept a hand on each corner of the truck as if they were walking with him.
Firefighters and police officers alike stood at attention as the procession, with more than 60 first responder vehicles behind their fallen brother, made its way to the front of the church.
Camelo was lowered from the engine while Guns and Hoses played him in.
All first responders who were there to honor Camelo mustered in formation around the entrance of St. Andrew, where his two fire helmets and another flag followed in tow with the family for the service.
“Today was a roller coaster of emotions,” CCFD Chief Ryan Lamb said.
“A great thank you to our community for the outpouring of support in this tragic losswe felt that pain today.”
On the way out of the church, special procedures took place to honor the fallen firefighter.
“Taps” was slowly played over a chorus of tears, while the pallbearers folded the American Flag that was over his casket.
The pallbearers then each removed one glove, and left in beside Camelo’s casket, perhaps a sign that he would never be alone, that his brothers would always be with him.
His two helmets were given to his mother, Debbie Camelo, and his father, Michael Camelo Sr., a Cape Coral firefighter himself since 1977.
The American flag that adorned his casket and folded was also given to the family, with both parents showing the agony of just losing a son.
“Amazing Grace” was performed on bagpipes from Guns and Hoses, with one lone bagpiper slowly making his way away from the group, the sound of his pipes trailing away in the distance in a haunting manner.
“We’re going to continue to remember Mike through the lives that he’s saved. His impact will be far and outlast his life. Our biggest concern right now is that his children are taken care of,” Lamb said.
The ringing of the bell is a tradition amongst fire fighters; it symbolizes the start and end of the summoning of brave men and women who put it all on the line to help those in need.
It also symbolizes the passing of a member of the family.
It rang in groups of three, three times, to represent the end of a comrades journey.
A final radio call was also made.
“Cape Coral to engineer 0603 Cape Coral to engineer 0603” rang throughout the front steps of the church.
“Engineer Michael Camelo Jr. has answered his final call,” the dispatcher said across the radio.
The dispatcher also read an old Irish blessing to Camelo Jr. “May the sun shine upon your face and the wind at your back, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
“Mike was very passionate about what he did. He lived in the Fire Department day in and day out. He was one of 20 recipients nationwide to get a scholarship to the Fire Department Instructors Conference. He was involved in everything we didit’s big shoes to have to fill,” added Lamb.
He remembers sharing many moments with Camelo over the years.
“Mike was a goof ball, but we loved him for it. I remember having Thanksgiving dinner at the fire house with him and his father when we all worked together. I had the honor of serving with Mike and went on calls with him.”
Lamb says the amount of people who came out today to show support just goes to show the impact he had in our community.
Camelo, before being placed into the hearse, spent one last moment in the Florida sun before being taken to his final resting place.