A Firefighter Farewell - A Tribute to Passaic Fallen FF Israel Tolentino Jr.
The 124th Annual NJ FMBA Convention ended this week and although it was a convention unlike any other for many obvious reasons, the NJ FMBA gave a final farewell to one of its fallen firefighters. Members of the NJ FMBA and family members and friends gathered under a tent in a socially distanced environment at Harrah's Resort on Tuesday evening to pay tribute to Passaic FF Israel Tolentino, who was lost in the line of duty earlier this year to COVID-19.
The NJ FMBA executive board had been planning this for some time shortly after the passing of "Izzy" and felt that FF Tolentino deserved a proper Fallen Firefighter send off. During these difficult and challenging times, restrictions put in place due to Coronavirus, funerals and memorial services had limitations that prevented "Izzy" from receiving a burial that every LODD should receive.
Members of the Passaic FD lined up and said farewell to "Nudge" as they liked to call him. Maria, Israel's wife and best friend, spoke of Izzy and gave everyone in the audience a glimpse into the love they had for each other and the passion that "Izzy" had for being a firefighter. She spoke of his laughter, sense of humor, kind heart, and determination. By the end of her words there was not a dry eye in the house and a feeling of love and gratitude filled the air.
The bagpipes piped "Amazing Grace" and the bugle sounded "Taps" as the room was at a stand still. Pictures of "Nudge" were at the front of the room displaying his larger than life smile and if you were one like me that never met Izzy, you knew how great and kind of a person he was by the glowing images of his face.
It was a night that you wish never had to happen and one that you hope never happens again, but it was also a night when the soul of the NJ FMBA was on full display and one that will be remembered by all who were in attendance. The service that unfolded that night is why I am truly proud to call myself a member of the NJ FMBA.