Firefighters, Family Pay Last Respects To Terry Eiland

Firefighters, no matter where they serve, consider one another family.

Thursday more than 150 firefighters from Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama came to a the tiny community of Franklin Creek in Jackson County to pay their respects to Terry Eiland - a wife, mother, and volunteer firefighter. She died Sunday while driving a fire truck to a woods fire.

Fire trucks and emergency response vehicles lined the street outside Franklin Creek Baptist Church. Inside family and friends reflected on Terri Eiland's life.

"I love her and I miss her, but I know where she's at. She's in my heart. I think the biggest thing that helped me out - every morning I'd tell her I loved her before I went to work and I'd tell her I love her before I went to bed and that's eased my pain," Eiland's husband Preston said.

Firefighters who served with Eiland recalled her dedication to her job and her community.

"In her heart she said, 'Jackson County, what's mine is yours and I'll give it to you if you need it.' And she gave it all. Sshe gave it all," fellow firefighter Greg Foster said.

Her friends said she gave all her life. At her funeral the mother of two received one more honor.

"She was up for a promotion in our station that I wasn't able to give her. Well we're going to give it to her today," Chief Donald Clark said. "Terri Eiland, on behalf of the Forts Lake Fire Department, I hereby promote you to Lieutenant."

Her brother and sister firefighters carried Lieutenant Eiland's casket out of the church and placed it on a fire engine waiting outside. Two dozen similar trucks led the procession to the Jackson County Memorial Gardens.

Before Terri Eiland could be laid to rest, her fellow firefighters gave a final salute. It's a gesture reserved for those who give their lives serving others and inspiring those left behind.

"We're going to go out there and do our job better because they've made the ultimate sacrifice and we're carrying on a job and a love that they had," Gautier Firefighter Marshall Robinson said.

Friends have set up a benefit fund for Terri Eiland's family. Anyone interested, can donate to the Terri Eiland account at any Hancock Bank.