The Oklahoma City firefighter that became a symbol for the infamous federal building bombing that shook the nation on April 9, 1995 just announced he’s retiring from his squad after three decades of service.
Major Fields said in an interview with Today.com that he was roughly seventeen blocks away at his firehouse when he felt a blast and saw smoke spiraling out of one of the city’s largest buildings. He left his station immediately to go help in whatever way he could.
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From his raw emotion and explanation over two decades later, it is now clear that, that day changed his life forever. And now, shortly after his dedicated service has ended, Fields is sharing with the world what it is like to be several weeks into retirement. A feeling that is somewhat bittersweet for him.
Before that spring day, the veteran fire fighter was like any other local fireman in his area, he did everything from rescuing pets to fighting big blazes but nothing really prepared him for the blast that hit the city shortly after 9 am that April morning.
Originally when he rushed to the scene, he went were he was needed. But soon after he got there, a police officer approached him for help. The fear the officer had wasn’t for himself but for a little infant in critical condition. Her name was Balyee Almon and she was covered in blood.
Once Fields had the baby in his arms, he began to cradle the baby while walking over to the series of ambulances stationed on the site. But before walking over, he wanted to figure out her health status and look “for signs of life.” After examining her, he realized that baby Balyee Almon didn’t have any. But he was hopeful that the paramedics could do something and have a different diagnosis.
As he approached the stretchers and the emergency vehicles lined up next to one another he realized that they were all full and he needed to wait for space on one. In the meantime, so he could set the child down on something, he searched for a blanket.
While he was waiting patiently for one, Fields admitted that he started thinking about the family of the one-year-old little girl and how she was not much younger than his only child at the time, a 2-year-old little boy. And as that thought came popping into his head, the photograph was taken.
Oklahoma City BombingImage of firefighter Chris Fields holding dying infant Baylee Almon,won the Pulitzer Prize pic.twitter.com/eQMJrHoVV1
— Lynette (@TitanicQueen) December 8, 2014
Even years later, after many awards, the the iconic image has so much meaning to it. It has also given many of the victim’s of the bombing an ability to mourn. Looking back on all of it, Fields said, you know, “I was thinking, this is somebody’s world just getting ready to be totally undone”…”Knowing that they’re going to find out that their child is dead.”
Now 22 years later, Fields has two adult sons and is in a better place. A place that took him a long time to get to because of everything he had to process from the Oklahoma City bombing. The 53-year-old said, “It took me a long time to get to this point… it definitely affected my personal life as the years went on, but everything is great now.”
During his official retirement party from the local precinct in February, the man of the hour got emotional while he thanked his fellow firefighters and his wife, a woman who sacrificed regularly so he could continue to do his job as a firefighter, he said in the moving home video.
During his speech, he also cracked jokes about his parents and thanked his fire chief for giving up opportunities so he could be where he is today. And in the last few seconds of it, Fields ends it by saying,”I would not change a thing” and “I love everybody.”
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