Sunday was a solemn day for the Tri-Town community and its first responders as many gathered in Mattapoisett to honor the memory of Thomas Nye, a 45-year veteran of the Marion Fire Department who died February 27 in the line of duty.
Over 100 firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel from Marion, the Tri-Town, and communities beyond marched together down Route 6 to the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals on March 3 to pay their respects to their fallen comrade and witness the ringing of the final bell and hear the transmittal of the final alarm for Firefighter Nye, 72, who suffered a cardiac arrest while at home after having assisted in the knockdown of a chimney fire at a Marion residence the night before.
News of Nye’s untimely death spread quickly throughout the Tri-Town, and before long Marion fire trucks were draped in black bunting as a community and a brotherhood of firefighters mourned.
Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony said on Sunday that during the days following Nye’s death, he has heard the word “mentor” used several times by other firefighters describing how Nye left an impact on them, not just firefighters, but as people.
“Certainly Tom deserves all the praise that we can muster today,” said Chief Jackvony. “Tom was to all firefighters a mentor – Tom was also a good friend and a good firefighter. … Tom was as reliable and dedicated as a fire chief could ask. He always answered as many fire calls as possible and did this with a great sense of pride and ownership for his company, Engine 2.
“He did this with no thought other than to serve his community and help his brother firefighters in completing their primary mission of saving lives and property.”
Nye had what the chief called “a legendary history of service” with Marion Fire, serving at Marion Station 2, which was dedicated to Nye’s older brother, Deputy Chief Nathan Nye, and under the command of his nephew, Captain Christopher Nye.
“Tom knew that his community needed him and he gave his last full measure …” said Jackvony. “We are experiencing feelings of extreme sadness, but there is more to reflect upon – there is the valor of a firefighter who is willing to respond in the face of danger and protect those who could not protect themselves. There is the courage to enter a burning building when we know the inherent dangers of the firefighting profession. There is the sympathy to support others who have suffered great loss, the honor to serve a country during war. There is the love for Tom to return home to his family after each fire call and nurture them,” continued Jackvony.
“We will miss you; you will live in our hearts forever.”
After sounding the bell – three successions of five measured tones followed by a pause – the chief called for the striking of Box 41, a Marion tradition that signals the significance of a pending fire call, such as large structure fires, smoke in the building, or the last call for a line of duty death of a firefighter.
Nye’s wife, Patricia, his two sons, and many friends and family sat and listened to the words spoken by the Reverend James Tilbe.
“When the tones went off, Tom responded, and responded, and responded – year after year, faithfully, helping those in need in times of dire need and danger,” said Reverend Tilbe. “Tuesday night, Tom responded to the tones. … But this was different. Wednesday, the effects of that fire response came upon him, came upon his body. Tom gave the last full measure of devotion.”
In addition to having served the Town of Marion for 45 years, he also served his country in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
“Today we remember Tom; we honor him; we give thanks for his life and his service, but we also gather around him and his friends and family,” said Tilbe. “This larger family that we call the fire service comes together to honor one of our own and to pray …
“We know that Tom is in good hands.”
By Jean Perry