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Firefighter remembered with flags of distinction

By Rhonda McBride 5:30 AM March 13, 2014

Flag flown at the State Capitol to be given to firefighter’s family

Lisa Sturgis –

JUNEAU – As far as she knows, Rep. Charisse Millett doesn’t think there’s ever been a memorial service on top of the State Capitol.

The Anchorage lawmaker said she and her colleague, Shelley Hughes, wanted to do something special to remember Jeff Bayless, the firefighter who collapsed and died last Friday while taking part in an Anchorage Fire Department exercise.

Bayless, who was only 51, was the senior captain at the Eagle River fire station, which is in Hughes’ district. He also had worked at the Huffman station, which was once in Millett’s district.

Millett and Hughes drafted a citation in honor of Bayless, but wanted something more.

So they collaborated with Juneau firefighters, who raised two flags on the rooftop of the Capitol. Then after three minutes of silence, about the time it takes to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” they lowered the flags, folded them and turned them over to Anchorage firefighters, who will deliver them to the Bayless family — along with the citation — at Saturday’s memorial service in Anchorage.

Millett said she hopes the rooftop service can become a tradition; a way to honor public safety workers who die in the line of duty.

“It meant so much to the firefighters,” Millett said. “It’s a small gesture, but it’s so important. It’s the least that the Legislature can do.”

The governor has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday and Saturday.

Another flag is set to arrive in Anchorage on Thursday: The United States Honor Flag was raised from the rubble at Ground Zero on Sept. 11.

It travels to funerals of police, fire and military members lost in the line of duty.

The flag is scheduled to arrive at the Ted Stevens International Airport at 1:00 p.m., where it will be handed off to the Anchorage Firefighters Honor Guard and displayed next to the captain’s casket.

Captain Bayless’s memorial begins Saturday at 1:00 p.m. with a procession starting at 5th Avenue and Cordova Street and ending at the Egan Convention Center, where the service begins an hour later.


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