Iraqi Vet-turned-firefighter Dies in First Fire

This is a story of service to one’s country, service to one’s community, commitment, pursuing dreams, and tragic irony.


Damion Jon Hobbs had always wanted to be a firefighter.  He had enrolled in the Houston Fire Department training school once before, but his training was cut short by being called to serve in Iraq.

He served his country through an 18 month tour of duty in the U.S. Army.  When he returned recently to the Houston area, he enrolled again in firefighters’ training school and graduated March 3, 2009.

Damion was assigned to a Houston Fire Department station on the city’s southeast side.  His station captain, James Harlow, was a 50-year-old, seasoned firefighting veteran who was known for his decisiveness and compassionate service to fire victims.  Harlow took the rookie under his wing and served as his mentor.  They responded to several routine calls early on, but nothing of dramatic significance.

Early Easter morning, while most of Houston slept in preparation for sunrise services or family gatherings, Damion’s station responded to a house fire.  It was his first “true” structural fire.

The crew’s efforts had an immediate impact; the fire was thought to be well under control.  Captain Harlow no doubt thought it a great “training” moment for his rookie and both geared up and entered the house to finish off the job. 

However, something went terribly wrong and the fire suddently returned with a vengeance.  The two firefighters were trapped and perished.

Two dedicated public servants.  One a seasoned firefighter vet with a family, providing leadership and mentoring.  The other a Iraqi War vet fighting his very first fire….on Easter morning.

Through the tragic irony we can find comfort in a hope of resurrection on the Day of Resurrection.