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Fallen Boone County firefighter honored at wreath-laying ceremony

Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Tobben had only been a firefighter in Boone County since May, after 19 years working in the job in the town of Union, near St. Louis.
Courtesy Union Fire Protection District
Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Tobben had only been a firefighter in Boone County since May, after 19 years working in the job in the town of Union, near St. Louis.

A wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday honored Matthew Tobben, a fallen Boone County assistant fire chief.

A special wreath with yellow roses, the colors of the Boone County Fire Protection District, was placed alongside the traditional larger wreath the foundation presents at funerals.

The ceremony, hosted by the United States Exercise Tiger Foundation, took place at 2 p.m. at the Boone County Fire Protection District headquarters.

Toben died during a swift-water rescue Monday.

"Matt died saving lives," USTF Director Susan Haines said in a news release. "His battle wasn't in a far off land; it was a battle against a raging torrent of water. He may have died, but his memory and legacy will live on."

The Boone County Fire Protection District placed the first, large wreath, and Justin Aldred, the Boone County District I Commissioner, placed the smaller wreath with yellow roses. Haines gave remarks after the wreath-laying.

"Times of tragedies may pass, but our remembrance of this ultimate sacrifice should not," Aldred said. "Please keep the Tobben's family near your minds and near your hearts during this challenging time."

Gale Blomenkamp, an assistant chief for the Boone County Fire Protection District, also gave brief remarks during the ceremony and spoke to KOMU 8 following the ceremony.

He said, Boone County Fire will do everything in its power to help Tobben's family though this.

"We're not going to leave the family to face this alone, and we will be with them every step of the way," Blomenkamp said. "They have the fire family, and they will always and forever be a part of the Boone County Fire family."

A visitation will be held from 3-8 p.m. Friday, and the funeral will be held in Union at 11 a.m. Saturday.

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.