Houston Fire Captain Bill Dowling lost both legs and suffered brain damage in last year's massive motel fire which killed four of his colleagues. Now the community has sent him to San Diego to see his son graduate from the Marine Corps boot camp.
“He's extremely emotional, and when we bring up how much people love him and care about him, he gets very touched,” wife Jacki Dowling tells KTRH News. “I know he's grateful and very humbled by it.”
Ken Redding at the Katy Fire Department is credited with getting the ball rolling on sending “Iron Bill” to San Diego.
“I got the jet donated from George Bishop with GeoSouthern Energy, spa treatment for Jackie through the zoo, and San Diego Sea World for the whole family to go to through Wounded Warrior Project,” says Redding.
San Diego firefighters also have stepped in to drive the Dowlings anywhere they need to go.
Thursday is family day on the base so the Dowlings can visit with their son Forrest.
“We're getting to go eat, walk around and just visiting him,” says Jacki. “Then Friday is the graduation where he'll get released and get to come home with us for 10 days.”
Redding says he never expected such community support when he set out to send the Dowlings to California.
“Just a small idea that I had which was just to get them out there to see their son graduate from Marine Corps boot camp, to what it has spawned into, with everything they get to do for nine days, it is absolutely terrific for their family,” he says.