Hundreds firefighters from across the state gathered in San Jose Saturday for the funeral of a longtime firefighter who died while on duty.
Cal Fire said Robert Van Wormer died last Saturday of natural causes after losing consciousness while assigned to an investigation in Santa Cruz County.
Helicopters flew in the sky Saturday letting the firefighters below know the funeral procession for Van Wormer had arrived at the HP Pavilion in downtown San Jose.
The honor guard led the way, followed by Santa Clara County Cal Fire Engine 3 and his casket was carried in an antique fire truck.
"He was a great all-around guy with friends up and down the whole state," said Angela Bernheisel, Cal Fire division chief.
The emotional event moved indoors with an elaborate stage book-ended by two San Jose fire trucks.
About 900 people remembered the Cal-Fire Battalion chief and peace officer.
"I'll miss the news of his strange work adventures and most of all I'll miss the stories," said his son, Austin Van Wormer, during the funeral. "The stories of the fires, the investigations and all the firehouse trouble makers, everything."
Battalion Chief Mark Marcucci described Van Wormer as a mentor to many firefighters.
"We will all see you again one day. But until then, we will always remember," Marcucci said. "We will never forget.
We will take care of each other and we will carry on. Rest in peace my friend. We all miss you more than words can say."
The Rob Van Wormer memorial scholarship fund has been established for the California Fire Exploring Association.
Flags flew at half-staff at all Cal-Fire stations across the state Saturday.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.