Last Of West’s Fallen Firefighters Laid To Rest

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WEST (May 3, 2013)—The last of the sad and somber processions for West’s fallen first responders wound through the town Friday as family, friends and fellow firefighters bid farewell to Morris Wayne Bridges, Jr., 41.

Morris Bridges, Jr. (Funeral home photo)

Bridges was one of the first responders who died in the powerful April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co.

He had been a West volunteer firefighter for several years.

In a video played at a community memorial service last month, his wife, Carmen, said he paused before leaving to battle the fertilizer plant fire to tell his infant son he loved him and that he would be right back.

“He never came back,” she said.

West was born in Dallas and graduated in 1990 from Bruceville-Eddy High School.

He worked as a pipefitter for Action Fire Pro in Waxahachie and loved to ride motorcycles, fish, camp and spend time outdoors, his obituary said.

(Read Morris Bridges’ Obituary)

A funeral service was held Thursday at Central Baptist Church in Hillsboro for Perry Calvin, 37, who was a member of both the Navarro Mills and Mertens Volunteer Fire Departments.

He was attending an EMT training class when fire broke out on April 17 at West Fertilizer Co. and rushed to help.

He died in the massive explosion at the plant.

Calvin was a Dallas native and a graduate of Frost High School who was attending the Fire Academy and Emergency Medical Technician at Hill College.

He was a farmer who enjoyed the outdoors, horseback riding, rodeos and fishing.

His father, Phil Calvin, said Perry, a husband and father of two boys ages 9 and 2, was looking forward to the new baby his wife will have around Thanksgiving.

(Read Perry Calvin’s Obituary)

Services were held Wednesday morning at the Church of the Assumption for West volunteer firefighter Cody Dragoo, 50, and in Palos Hills, Ill. for Bruceville-Eddy volunteer firefighter Kevin Sanders, 33, who was attending an EMT training course when the fire broke out and rushed to help.

Dragoo was a Montana State University graduate who was employed at the West Fertilizer Co. for a number of years.

He was a member of the West Volunteer Fire Department who enjoyed hunting, cooking and watching NASCAR.

He was laid to rest at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

(Read Cody Dragoo’s Obituary)

Sanders grew up in Palos Hills, a Chicago suburb, and graduated in 2001 from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

He taught a veterinary technician training course at McLennan Community College in Waco.

“He died doing what he loved to do by serving and protecting others and will be forever remembered as a hero,” his obituary said.

(Read Kevin Sanders’ Obituary)

On Tuesday family and friends bid farewell to longtime West resident Jimmy Ray Matus, 52, who died in the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion while helping first responders.

Matus was named an honorary firefighter in recognition of his sacrifice.

A burial Mass was held Tuesday at the Church of the Assumption in West and burial followed at St Mary's Cemetery.

Matus was born in Waco, attended St. Mary’s School and graduated from West High School in 1979.

He also attended McLennan Community College in Waco.

He worked for his family’s business, Westex Welding & Fire Apparatus, for four decades.

"Jimmy was an outstanding man, someone who would go out of his way to help you. That's the way we are taught," said Garratt Matus of his father's cousin.

(Read Jimmy Ray Matus’ Obituary )

A joint funeral service was held Monday for brothers Robert and Doug Snokhouse, who were among the volunteer firefighters killed in the April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer co.

"We are comforted they were together at the end," the Snokhous family said in a statement.

Douglas James Snokhouse, 50, was born in Hillsboro and grew up in West.

He played baseball and football for the West Trojans and graduated from West High School in 2981.

He worked at Central Texas Iron Works for more than three decades.

(Read Doug Snokhouse’s Obituary)

Robert Snokhouse, 48, was born in Hillsboro and grew up in West.

He was a 1982 graduate of West High School and earned an associate’s degree from Texas State Technical College in Waco.

He was a project manager at Central Texas Iron Works.

(Read Robert Snokhouse’s Obituary)

Twelve of the 15 people who were killed or died as a result of the explosion were first responders.

(West: Information For Residents, Numbers To Call, Ways To Help)

(West: More Headlines And Information)

(City Of West Website)

(Funerals And Memorial Services)

(Photo by Nichole Perez)