Remarks at Funeral of U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and FDNY Firefighter Christopher Slutman
New York City Strong 4.26.2017 New York, NY: Office of the Mayor reports – Mayor Bill de Blasio: Today our city mourns a hero, Firefighter Christopher Slutman. And he represented the very best of us. A man so devoted to his family, to this city that he served so well, and to his nation, taken too soon, just 43 years old. But in a brief chronological life, his fearless spirit reached so far, touched so many, made this world immeasurably better. In these moments of pain after tragedies we as a city come to know a family each time, and we wish so deeply it wasn’t under this circumstance. But we here we have come to known an extraordinary family. And anyone who meets this family is immediately moved.
To Chris’s wife Shannon, your strength, your resolve and your deep love for Chris are so clear, so noble. To his daughters McKenna, Kenley and Weslynnwe are all here for you. To his sister Emily, to his brothers, all of whom are serving in uniform, Brian as a firefighter, Peter in the Marines, Timothy in the Army, and to his parents, this family that has given so much to all of us, took inspiration from this mother and this father, Mary who was a firefighter herself, a volunteer fire department, Fletcher, a firefighter as well. A family devoted to others, a family filled with love for their fellow human beings and expressing it this highest way. Chris, by every measure came from this family, in his DNA was that extraordinary desire to serve and he wore not one but two uniforms as a staff sergeant of the United States Marine Corp Reserve and a 15-year veteran of the FDNY serving at Ladder 17 and then Ladder 27.
Chris comes from such an amazing family but he joined two other great families in the Marines and the FDNY. And his brothers and sisters in those families are hurting today, all of you are feeling the pain. You know that Chris embodied the best of the traditions and he showed it that day in July 2013, that apartment building in the Bronx – a woman who unquestionably would never have made it, but for the fact that Chris was there, crawling through that smoke to find her and save her. You think of the notion of someone being selfless. Chris was the definition of that very idea because he only thought of what he could do for someone in need and he did not want the accolades. But it’s important to give that recognition, even to someone who shies away from it. In 2014, I had the extraordinary privilege of awarding to Chris, the Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal for the bravery he showed that day in 2013.
As you heard he may have not looked forward to the ceremony but we all looked forward to celebrating him. And now that we have lost him, we remember all those who came before him, Chris was the 1,152nd member of the FDNY to fall in the line of duty in the 150 years plus of this extraordinary department. And he was the fourth to be killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that we can never repay him, we can never repay his family for their loss. What we can do is be there for them, what we can do is give them our love and our support. And what we can do it try in every way to live as Chris lived. Before I conclude I just want to say something to McKenna and Kenley and Weslynn. Your very young life, you have lost your father, you’ve lost a great man and it is so hard to make sense of. And I’ll tell you that I lost my dad too young as well. My dad wore the uniform of this nation too. And one thing that becomes clear in the years ahead when you know your dad was a hero, it strengthens you, it sustains you. Your dad will be a guardian angel looking over you. In you moments of doubt, you’ll know he’s there to make you stronger. On behalf of all 8.6 million New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to this good family, to all of the brave men and women of the FDNY and the United States Marine Corp, to all who had the privilege of knowing Chris, God bless you all.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro: Nearly three weeks ago, the FDNY suffered the painful loss of a brave member, a brave member who not only protected our great city but also served his country, Staff Sergeant and New York City Fire Firefighter, Christopher Slutman was killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. He was killed alongside his fellow members, fellow Marines, Corporal Robert Hendricks and Sergeant Benjamin Hines. All three assigned to the 25th Marine Regiment, Fourth Marine Division, of the Marine Force Reserve. They were great Americans who served with courage and with honor and they are heroes to us all.
But long before that terrible day, Chris Slutman was a hero to this city as well. His first act of bravery for us was the day he raised his right hand and swore an oath to serve as a New York City firefighter. He fulfilled his childhood dream and joined the FDNY in September of 2003, nearly two years from the day that we were attacked on September 11th. He entered a department still reeling from the painful loss of life suffered at the World Trade Center and at that time we relied heavily on eager, young firefighters like him. Chris saw the unimaginable loss the FDNY had suffered and still bravely chose to become one of us and serve others. He was a young firefighter full of endless potential, strong, dedicated, and focused on the mission of saving lives. He came to the Bronx where he would spend his entire career, first at Ladder 17 and later at Ladder 27. Early and often he was tested, responding to fires and all manners of hazards and emergencies and very quickly establishing himself as a reliable leader in his country with abilities far beyond his years of experience. His fellow firefighters took note describing him as a total professional, and the type of firefighter that everyone wanted to have in their firehouse.
Their words tell the story of an extraordinary individual with a burning passion for his job and truly a born leader. As one of his fellow members put it, his troops looked up to him as a Staff Sergeant and the members at the fire house look up to him too. On two separate occasions he was honored for his bravery including the rescue of an unconscious woman trapped in the bedroom of a high rise apartment. And when he wasn’t serving our city, protecting life and property, and removing New Yorkers from harm, he traded in his bunker gear and helmet for the uniform of the United States Marine Corp. Here is an individual who excelled in not just one but two elite organizations, the type of American we can all be proud of. Chris was a protector of those in danger, a defender to those who needed him, a rescuer to those who needed saving, and a leader who demonstrated his valor on every tour of duty both here and abroad. Shannon, among all the well-deserved tributes you have heard for Chris and will continue to hear for years to come, please know this we will never forget him, we will honor him, we will remember all the good he did in both uniforms he proudly wore and our department will hold you, your daughters and his entire family in our hearts. God bless Firefighter Christopher Slutman, God bless the entire Slutman family, and may God continue to bless the FDNY.