FIRE HOGS ESCORT FOR FALLEN FIRE HOG RAY VAN BLARCOM
On May 6, 2020, 15 members of the Fire Hogs Motorcycle Club rode to Bullhead City, AZ to provide an escort for their fallen fellow Fire Hog and active duty LAFD Fire Captain Ray Van Blarcom. In the early morning hours of May 6, 2020, 15 Fire Hogs met in Victorville, CA to ride to Bullhead City, AZ to meet Ray’s son, active duty Firefighter Nicholas Van Blarcom, to coordinate Ray’s escort from the funeral home in Kingman, AZ back to his son’s house in Lancaster, CA. This was coordinated with fellow Fire Hog and best friend of Ray’s Retired LAFD Fire Captain Greg Porter, Retired LAFD Fire Captain Ray Hamel, and family Liaison LAFD Captain J.D. Fox.
Once at Greg’s house in Bullhead City, the Fire Hogs were met by the Honor Guards from the LAFD and the Kingman, AZ Fire Departments as well as a static display of an aerial with a Flag by the Bullhead City FD. At Greg’s house, LAFD Chaplain Negrete gave a blessing and prayer to the approximately 60 people in attendance. From there the Fire Hogs lead the procession with Ray Hamel on Ray’s bike, Greg Porter, Jimmy Coburn on Ray’s brother’s Bob’s Bike (who passed away two months prior) in the lead with Nick’s Family, relatives, and friends following. The Bullhead City engine and Battalion Chief escorted us to the outskirts of the City boundary. From there, the procession was met by the Kingman FD and escorted to the funeral home in Kingman, AZ. As we arrived at the Funeral home, we were greeted by the Honor Guard and various FD apparatus from the Kingman FD. The bikes were lined up in front of the funeral home, and Honors were presented as Nick and the family entered the funeral home to pick up Brother Ray’s remains. The service inside the funeral home was conducted by Chaplain Negrete, and Honors were bestowed upon Ray as they exited the facility, which cumulated in the Fire Hogs conducting a Biker farewell for Ray and a moment of silence in his honor.
As we departed the funeral home with Ray Van Blarcom’s remains, every intersection was blocked by the Kingman Police Department. Along the processional route, Kingman ﬁre apparatus, with their respective personnel, were standing at attention tendering a salute. As we proceeded through downtown Kingman, the entire Kingman Fire Administration was at attention with personnel and apparatus. Our procession was escorted by Kingman and Bullhead Fire Command vehicles. We proceeded from Kingman to Bullhead City, where the Golden Valley, Clark County, and Bullhead Fire Departments also staged with apparatus and personnel along the procession route. What a sign of respect for our fallen Brother as the procession traveled through the towns of Kingman, Golden Valley, and Bullhead City. Our procession this day concluded at the home of Greg Porter, where the Bullhead Fire Department aerial ladders were ﬂying the American ﬂag as we arrived. A celebration of brothers Ray and Bob’s lives were enjoyed by those at Greg’s home along the Colorado River, with many humorous and loving stories told through the afternoon.
Two days later, the Fire Hogs, along with the family, escorted Ray to his son’s home in Lancaster, CA. During the escort, Fireﬁghter Ray Van Blarcom’s remains were in the possession of his son, LAFD Fireﬁghter Nicholas Van Blarcom.
For nearly a week, Kingman Fireﬁghter’s and the LAFD Honor Guards were posted with Ray’s body until we ﬁnally brought our Brother home. The Fire Hogs rode to the Kingman/Bullhead area in order to comfort the family, pay respect, and escort our Brother’s remains home to Lancaster, CA. The Kingman and Bullhead Fire Departments went above and beyond the call of duty in supporting our efforts as well as the LAFD Honor Guard, Family Liaison J.D.Fox, Chaplin Negrete, and retired Fire Captain Greg Porter. Our efforts would not have been possible without the support of those who opened their homes and hearts to us at the last minute including: Fire Hog and LAFD Retired Fire Captain Scott Gould, Fire Hog and LAFD Retired Fire Captain Dan Costa, Fire Hog and LAFD Retired Fire Inspector Frank Godoy, Cook extraordinaire Darrell Smith, and others I’ve failed to mention. I also want to recognize the following Fire Hogs who dropped everything at the last minute to be a part of something bigger than themselves: LAFD Fire Hog Chapter members Taylor Gaskin, Tuzz, Darrell Smith, Bruce Newcomb, Jim Vels, Scott Gould, Jimmy Coburn, Greg Porter, Dan Foote, Bennie Orrantia, Dan Costa, Al Mackey, Frank Godoy, Bull Head Mike Villigran, and Jack Wise; LACoFD Chapter members Doc and John O; and Friends of the Fire Hogs John Lee and Ray Hamel.
The Kingman Fire Department Honor Guard was created in 2007 in order to give our Fire Hog Member and active EMS Captain Danny Cypert a formal memorial ceremony. Danny was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident outside of the City of Kingman. Kingman is not a very prosperous community with ﬁscal constraints. We have no professional reciprocity with Kingman, but they choose to honor our fallen anyway. Their Honor Guard struggles to maintain their corps. The Fire Hog members and various other LAFD personnel conducted an impromptu collection and donated $1,100 to their Honor Guard.
“Ride to Live. Live to Give.”