'Brave souls': Illinois leaders commemorate fallen firefighters, honor heroism

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CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton commemorated Illinois fallen firefighters and honored those still on the job for their heroism during a ceremony on Tuesday.

"We honor five brave souls who gave their lives in service to others," stated Pritzker.

The 31st Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service, hosted by the Illinois State Fire Marshal, paid tribute to the sacrifices of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Among those remembered were Jermaine Pelt, who succumbed to smoke inhalation while battling a house fire in West Pullman last year. His son received the honor on his behalf.

Lt. Jan Tchoryk was remembered for his efforts during a wind-driven fire in a high-rise building, where he tragically collapsed.

Andrew "Drew" Price, who passed away at just 39 years old, was also honored for his service.

Additionally, Lt. Kevin Ward, who was critically injured and later died while in the basement of a burning home last summer, was remembered for his sacrifice.

"Today we gather in solemn remembrance of our fallen firefighters and courageous recipients of the Medal of Honor and Valor. As we gather here, heavy hearts yet spirits proud, we pay tribute to those who selflessly gave their all, embodying the true essence of heroism. It's true, not all superheroes wear capes. The sacrifice that our fallen brothers willingly and bravely faced echoes through the quarters of time and as a guiding light in our hours of darkness. Let us honor their memory with reverence and gratitude, cherishing their legacy as a guiding light for us all," remarked James Rivera, Illinois State Fire Marshal.

Twenty other local firefighters were recognized for their bravery during the ceremony, receiving awards for their courageous acts.