`Irreplaceable` firefighter Capt. Herbie Johnson laid to rest - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

PHOTOS: `Irreplaceable` Chicago firefighter Capt. Herbie Johnson laid to rest

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Thousands of firefighters, police and military officers attended the funeral for Captain Herbert "Herbie" Johnson on Thursday.

Some in attendance said it was the biggest crowd they'd ever seen for a public servant of Chicago, which reflects the size of the man's personality and the number of lives he touched. Johnson, 54, was well known throughout the fire department, and shown immense respect by people from all over the country.

"We knew it was going to be big. We tried to tell them, but nobody expected it to be that large," said Herbie's brother, Jim Johnson. "When you have people waiting four and a half to five hours to go see him."

Captain Johnson's casket was escorted to St. Rita of Cascia Chapel upon Fire Engine 123 from his Southwest Side firehouse.

Rows of uniformed firefighters and police officers stood at attention on the vast lawn outside the chapel before and after the service. The 1,200 seat sanctuary at St. Rita's was filled to capacity, as well as the overflow room. There was also a speaker system for those who could not pay their respects inside.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke to firefighters and the man's family members. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, former fire commissioners James Joyce and Ray Orozco, along with many Chicago aldermen were in attendance.

Capt. Herbie Johnson died last Friday night, from injuries sustained while battling a Gage Park house fire. His colleagues said he was first in to the flames.

Other colleagues said he was a great teacher, and everyone wanted to be on his team. It seemed like everyone knew him one of Chicago Fire's best, who always knew what to say in some of the worst situations, like the ones first-responders and public servants face on the job, every day.

"The only time I ever saw him serious was at fires, when he'd get in that rig and jump off that rig," said Herbie's brother. "Me, being a policeman and seeing him in action, it's the only time I never saw a smile on his face. He would smile when he came out with a child in his arms, smile when he came out with people."

Those who were closest to Herbie called him irreplaceable. Firefighters stressed they are all one family, suffering one tremendous loss.

Capt. Herbert "Herbie" Johnson is survived by his beloved wife and three adult children.

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