A little boy who dreamed of becoming a firefighter, just like his dad and his uncle, had his wish granted by fire departments across the country. But his appointment as an honorary fireman came after a house blaze killed him, his sisters and their father.
"James, the oldest of the kids was only 4, his dream was to grow up to be a fireman. Sadly, that dream will never come to fruition. Here is where y’all come in ... we would like to send James 'on duty' with as many departments as we can," a relative wrote on Facebook.
The call was heeded by firehouses across the globe this week, in states including California, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia and his native South Carolina, as well as countries including Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Australia.
Nate Raugh, 25, and his three children, James, Jalissa 'Missy,' 3, and Jordan, 23 months, died last week when their mobile home caught fire. First responders found the bodies inside the home at about 1 a.m. Firefighters battled flames for about 20 minutes before being able to get inside.
Mom Brittany Raugh was not home at the time.
James was a "typical little boy" who "loved dressing up as a firefighter and loved tractors and being outdoors with his dad," read an online obituary. His sister, Missy, was "a prissy little girl. She loved doing hair, makeup, and nails and getting dressed up." Jordan "loved her baby dolls and 'cooking' with her little stove and utensils."
A GoFundMe page has been established to help with funeral expenses.
In Georgia, the Bartow County Fire Department put an image of James, clad in a fire hat and turnout coat, on its Facebook page, along with photos of his name on the fire house's assignment board.
"It is our great honor to have Honorary FF James Raugh on duty with every engine and ladder company with the Bartow County Fire Department. RIP little guy!" a post read.
James' uncle, T.J. Johnson, carries a child-sized hat and fire coat in his truck, next to his own firefighter gear. "He just loved the lights and sirens," said Johnson. "Any time he'd come to the house, even if I didn't have a call, he wanted to turn these red lights and stuff on in my truck," he told WLTX-TV.
The family was laid to rest Friday. Hundreds attended the family funeral, including firefighters in their dress uniforms who drove their rigs from departments throughout the region.
"It's about James today, tomorrow and yesterday," Columbia Fire Department Capt. Brick Lewis told the station. "We want to keep his memory alive for his family's sake, his friends and for the fire service that had to respond to that call."
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