Final Goodbye to a Fallen Hero

by Kevin Gebhardt

A sea of dark blue filled the pews inside of the sanctuary at the Apostolic Church of God on Chicago’s southside Thursday morning,  for the homegoing service of fallen firefighter, Corey Ankum.

Firefighters from across the United States and from overseas, showed up by the dozens to pay their repsects to their fellow comrade at his final call home.

Several floral arrangements and a couple of pictures set along side Ankum’s casket, draped with the  Chicago flag.

Ankrums casket; photo by Kevin Gebhardt

The 34-year-old rookie firefighter died, along with veteran firefighter Edward Stringer on Dec. 22, after a roof collapsed at an abandoned laundromat on the southeast side.

Ankum had three young children and a wife, Demeka who is the personal assistant to Mayor Daley.  Ankum had planned to surprise his wife on Christmas Day with a brand new truck, adorned with a big red bow.

Mayor Daley, stood before Ankum’s family and friends,  where he delivered an emotionally charged speech and shared fond memories. “He always told me how great the fire department was…everytime we talked he told me how great the fire department was,” chuckled Daley as he fought back tears. A sentiment that resonated through the various tales of Ankum, a great father, a loving husband, a good cook and a bright-eyed fireman who loved his job.

Ankum graduated from the Chicago police academy in November of 2008, but found his true calling to become a firefighter, and graduated from the fire academy in April 1, 2010.

On the day that he responded to the call and the flames had been put out at the abandoned laundromat, the responders were prepared to leave when the roof caved in. Several firemen who were trapped under the rubble were injured and the lives of Ankum and Stringer were tragically ended.

At the end of the tear filled service, just outside of the church, the streets were lined with color guard holding flags, firemen and women, police officers, squad cars and other emergency vehicles for the funeral procession.

And as the bag pipes played, his casket was hoisted onto his fire engine for one last ride.

by Kevin Gebhardt

The deaths of the two men occured on the 100th Anniversary of the tragic fire at Chicago’s Union Stockyards, which claimed the lives of 21 Chicago firemen.