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Nation submits patches to honor wildfire first responders

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Volunteer firefighter and Milton Reserve Officer Daniel Lyon was injured on Aug. 19 in wildfires that were tearing through Eastern Washington, near Twisp. Lyon was taken to Harborview in critical condition; he has since stabilized and gone through several major surgeries.

Parents Don and Beverly Lyon are spearheading a project to honor not only their son, but the three other firefighters who died battling the blaze. Over the past several weeks, the pair has gathered various service patches from police and fire departments all around the nation, and have teamed up with the Crazy Quilters of Federal Way to create quilts composed of the patches for Daniel and the deceased firefighters’ families.

“What can we do with these, how can we display them? So we came up with the idea of a wall quilt,” Barbara said.

The pair stopped by the Milton Police Department on Oct. 2 to deliver the patches, as well as receive a bucket load more that had been sent to the Milton Police Department. In all, more than 200 patches were laid out on the table, a metaphor of national support lined up side by side, from Milton to Florida.

“This is the perfect example of the brotherhood of first responders, and how when one of us is hurt, we all hurt, and they come together like this to support one of our brothers who has been injured in the line of duty, and this is a prime example of that tight knit brotherhood we have,” Chief Tony Hernandez said.

The Crazy Quilters are a group from Federal Way who get together to sew and create quilts, as the name implies, but they have quite a project ahead of them. The 200 patches will be spread across four different wall quilts. As the various patches have different shapes and sizes, it will be tricky. However, it is a task the club is ready and willing to undertake.

“We’re a community-based group, and we do a lot of community service. It’s kind of what we do; we’re all a little crazy,” member Diane Keller said. “It will take a few weeks at least. There are a lot of patches to sew on, but what an awesome project.”

Daniel Lyon has been making progress in recent weeks, and the support he has received has been overwhelming for him. He makes several laps around the nurse’s station every day, and is slowly but surely showing signs of improvement.

“Daniel is doing better. He’s got one more major graft, “ Don said “He seems to be more alert, maybe a little less drugs each day, so they’re able to get him in a less-sedated state.”

“He has more willingness to do things. Every day, he gets up and walks each day. It’s baby steps,” Barbara said. “It is so overwhelming, what everybody does, has done and wants to do for Daniel. As parents, we can’t believe it. We can’t thank everyone enough.”

Lyon is a 25-year-old reserve officer who came to the force last year. When Chief Hernandez saw how dedicated Lyon was to his service-through-action philosophy, he knew the young man had to be a part of the team, and the city of Milton agrees.

“This is just what Milton’s made of. Milton is one big, giant family and they show it, they rally, they’re there every day,” Milton Mayor Debra Perry said. “They’re there for the long haul, and this is just a great example of that, and Daniel is definitely part of the family.”

The quilts will take a few weeks to make, but when they are finished, they will serve as reminders of both the sacrifice these firefighters made and the support that has swelled around the nation.