Claxton volunteer firefighter passes way after battle with ALS

CLAXTON, GA (WTOC) - A community is mourning after a longtime firefighter passed away from illness.

The flag outside the Claxton Fire Department went to half-staff on Monday after longtime volunteer fireman Chris Hodges died Friday after a two-year battle with ALS. Hodges joined the all-volunteer fire department back in 2002 and formed bonds with others who served. He served with Claxton Fire for 16 years. Even when his health declined, he remained a dedicated member of the team.

"Chris was an awesome guy. He loved sports, he loved his family, he loved his extended family here at the fire department," said Chief Harold Rogers, Claxton Fire Department. "If he heard that pager go off, right up until February. He was so dedicated and loved every bit of it."

He got the diagnosis 24 months ago and his health began to decline. Rogers says he served as long as he could. Even then, he had his wife load him up and drive him to fire calls to be there with his fellow firefighters.

"He didn't miss a thing. When we had fires, he was there. He may not have been able to do a whole lot, but he was there. I don't think Mandy could keep him away," the chief said.

The chief says he saw Chris just last week and while his body had failed him, his mind was still sharp and clear. He says he and the rest of the department will remember him and keep his legacy of service alive.

The department joined Hodges' family in supporting him in the struggle. His funeral will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Eastside Baptist Church in Claxton.

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