A hero’s homecoming
by Bill Kimber
Dec 18, 2013 | 5707 views |  0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy of Myra Thrift/Waycross Journal/Herald
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Pallbearers carry the casket of Fire Lt. Jeff Little at a funeral service Wednesday in Waycross, Ga. The Sylacauga native’s remains will be returned to his hometown today.
Courtesy of Myra Thrift/Waycross Journal/Herald

Pallbearers carry the casket of Fire Lt. Jeff Little at a funeral service Wednesday in Waycross, Ga. The Sylacauga native’s remains will be returned to his hometown today.
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Former Childersburg fire Capt. Jeff Little will receive a hero’s homecoming today as his remains are returned to his hometown in a funeral procession from Waycross, Ga., that is expected to take seven hours, highlighted by salutes from firefighters and fire apparatus at every highway overpass and several major intersections along the way.

Little died early Sunday from injuries suffered when the ceiling collapsed in a vacant house where he had been fighting a fire. The Sylacauga native had worked at the Waycross Fire Department for 12 years, and was a lieutenant there.

Childersburg Fire Department Capt. Jeff Monroe, who worked alongside Little for 16 years, said the procession will leave Waycross at 9 a.m. Eastern time, and will include dozens of fire trucks, escorted by state troopers. Georgia troopers are expected to pass the procession off to their Alabama counterparts at the state line on I-20 at 2 p.m. Central time.

The procession will travel down Alabama 21 from Oxford to Winterboro, then will turn off onto Alabama 76 to head through Childersburg.

“We’re encouraging anyone who would like to honor Jeff this final time to be in downtown Childersburg lining First Street before 3 o’clock,” Monroe said.

Alabama 76 is First Street in downtown Childersburg.

The Fire Department will give out 500 small hand-held American flags to be waved as the funeral passes.

Monroe recommended parking off the main route through downtown and walking to First Street to keep from obstructing traffic.

The funeral procession will include the U.S. Honor Flag, an American flag that was recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The flag is flown in support of heroes as a symbol of their sacrifice and service, usually at funerals for soldiers, firefighters and police officers, according to ushonorflag.org.

Members of the Talladega County Volunteer Fire Association Honor Guard and the State Firefighters Honor Guard will participate in the funeral.

The procession will turn left from downtown Childersburg onto U.S. 280 and travel to Sylacauga First Assembly of God, where the family visitation will be held tonight and the funeral Friday. The church is at the corner of U.S. 280 and Forest Glen Road in Oak Grove.

Little’s brother, Andy Little, said the family decided to move the funeral to the church because it has more parking and seating than the funeral home chapel.

“We have received overwhelming support from the community, and we felt that we needed to change the venue to a bigger location,” Andy Little said. “Want to honor Jeff the best way we can.”

A funeral was held Wednesday at Central Baptist Church in Waycross, attended by thousands of first responders and Little’s friends and family, said Myra Thrift, a local news reporter at the Waycross Journal-Herald.

“It was such an impressive ceremony,” she said. “There must have been 3,000 firefighters, EMTs, deputies, police officers and State Patrol.”

Two Waycross residents have been arrested and charged with arson and murder, accused of setting the fire that claimed Little’s life.

“Our family is thankful that the arrests were made in this case,” Andy Little said. “We send our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all members of law enforcement who were involved. We’re ready to sit back and let the justice system do what it’s supposed to do.”

Family visitation will be tonight from 6 to 9 at First Assembly, and funeral service will be Friday at 1 p.m. at the church, directed by Curtis and Son Funeral Home.

Burial will be in Bluff Springs Cemetery on County Line Road.