CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Many from the public safety community gathered Wednesday evening at Goldfinch Funeral Home to remember their fallen brother, Conway firefighter Chris Ray.
His visitation was one of the last chances his friends and family would have to say their goodbyes.
People came from far and wide to show their respect to the life Ray built serving the local community.
"While these things are tragic anywhere, they're especially felt in cities like Conway," Conway Police Chief Reggie Gosnell said.
For the small, tight-knit fire department, it was mourning the loss of one of its own.
"In the fire service, we're suppose to be the heroes, but we're human at the end of the day," said Conway Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Carter.
"When it's a loss for one, we consider it a loss for all," Gosnell said.
With black bands around their badges, brothers in service held on to one another.
"We know that when we come on duty there are challenges we face," Carter said. "You never know when the next call you go on may be your last call."
For Chris Ray, that last call came on March 20, 2016, as he responded to a fire on Hickory Circle. The 6-year department veteran died Sunday after falling off of the back of a fire engine and being struck by the vehicle.
"It is a calling to serve, and there's a danger associated with answering that calling," Gosnell said.
Ray gave the last decade of his life to serving this community, and now it was their chance to give back to him.
"It's really a celebration of the service and the life that Chris led."
The program given to those who came to the visitation to pay their respects included "A Fireman's Prayer."
A passage from the prayer stated:
When I am called to duty God,
Wherever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save some life,
Whatever be its age.
Ray's dedication to his family, community and brothers and sisters in the firefighting community has resonated not only with Conway locals, but also with representatives up in the South Carolina Statehouse.
Gov. Nikki Haley has ordered flags at half-staff across the state on Friday in honor of Ray.
The funeral for Ray will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at Beach Church in Myrtle Beach, followed by burial in the Buffkin Cemetery.
Stay with WMBF News Thursday, as the funeral will be live streamed here.