Terre Haute's Schoffstall honored at firefighters memorial

·2 min read

Sep. 23—Terre Haute Firefighter John Schoffstall, who died from COVID-related complications in 2020, was honored over the weekend in Colorado Springs during a ceremony conducted by the International Association of Firefighters.

His name was added to a monument that is part of the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, located in the shadow of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.

The memorial honors the sacrifice made by IAFF members who have given their lives in the line of duty.

"It was an honor to be out there and to see his name etched in the wall, which will be there forever," said John's wife, Jennifer Schoffstall, who attended, along with children Jake and Jaidyn. "It's a beautiful memorial."

The IAFF president spoke about "the brotherhood and the fact that we are bonded and forever family ... I really feel that way," she said. She said she felt "110% supported by the community and fire department throughout John's entire bout with COVID, but also beyond."

The 2022 Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial ceremony honored the 469 fallen members from the U.S. and Canada who would have been recognized at the canceled in-person 2020 and 2021 ceremonies.

Also present for Saturday's program were Bob Malone, president of Terre Haute firefighters local 758; Bill Berry, Terre Haute fire chief; Mayor Duke Bennett; and eight other members of the department.

"John Schoffstall was our brother and will never be forgotten," Berry wrote on the department's Facebook page. "Our members that were there accompanied Jennifer, Jake and Jaidyn throughout the weekend and will continue to look after them always."

On the evening of Sept. 16, pipes and drum groups from various fire departments played together in the streets of downtown Colorado Springs.

The ceremony, which took place Saturday morning, was somber, honoring those who died in the line of duty, Berry said. "It's also to commemorate him [John Schoffstall] and remember him always."

During the ceremony, a flag bearer and an honor guard member represent each fallen fire fighter as names are read, in groups of 18. Once each group of 18 was read off, the honor guard member would move to the fallen firefighter's family and present the IAFF flag, Berry said.

After Schoffstall's name was read, family escort Chad Kensell, Terre Haute union president Bob Malone and Berry accompanied Jennifer Schoffstall and her family as the honor guard presented the IAFF flag. "The rest of our group all stood at attention," Berry said.

Malone added, "It was good to go out there and be there for the family."

Jennifer Schoffstall said that through the memorial, her husband will be honored every year and every day. Anyone can visit it, she said.

"Without the love and support we have here, we would never be able to continue John's legacy."

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.