WASHINGTON, March 20 -


Mr. Speaker, as the bagpipes played in the background, the black cloth of sacrifice was draped over the badges of Houston first responders yesterday.

Senior Captain Thomas ìBillî Dillion of the Houston Fire Department was rushing into a house fire on March 14 when he apparently died of a heart attack. Captain Dillion was 49 years of age and had spent 23 years with the Houston Fire Department. He had three children.

With somber respect, hundreds of Texas firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, and citizens attended his funeral. Mr. Speaker, 300 firefighters from other towns in Texas volunteered their time to fill in at Houston Fire Department stations so Houston firefighters could attend the funeral.

Firefighters are a family of dedicated, loyal public servants. Captain Dillion and other firefighters spend their lives rescuing people they do not know and protecting property they have never seen from fire. Most of us flee danger; firefighters rush to the smell of smoke and the heat of danger.

Bill's crew at Station 69 spoke yesterday about him, saying he was a devout Christian, had a contagious happy mood, loved to fish and, of course, liked country music.

Captain Dillion and his fellow firefighters are a remarkable breed, a rare breed, the American breed. We thank them, one and all.

And that's just the way it is.