Former Melcher-Dallas firefighter Michael Hoch was honored June 9 by having his name added to the Iowa Firefighter’s Memorial Wall in Coralville. Hoch, who passed away in April 2018, served on the Melcher-Dallas fire department for 52 years.

When Hoch’s daughter Shantell Cottington discovered the application to add a loved one to the wall, she instantly knew her father was a good fit. After submitting the application, Cottington received a letter in May notifying her that her father’s name was going to be added to the Memorial Wall.

This year marked the 25th annual Iowa Firefighter’s Memorial Service. Family members and friends of deceased firefighters were invited to attend. The ceremony included the playing of bagpipes and the presentation of fire gear as colors. Family members were given the opportunity to place wreaths by the names of loved ones on the wall. During the service, a bell was rung for each name added this year. The ceremony concluded with the release of balloons to symbolize each name added to the wall.

Hoch was one of 113 firefighters added to the Memorial Wall this year. He is the only firefighter from Melcher-Dallas whose name is on the Memorial Wall. A majority of the fire department attended the ceremony, alongside Hoch’s family, some of whom traveled from Florida to attend.

“He was our hero,” said Cottington. “We are very excited.”

Cottington says that for her father, volunteering with the Melcher-Dallas fire department felt like another job. “When the tones went off, you got out of his way to make sure he was out the door,” she said.

Hoch served on the fire department for as long as he was able, still going on calls two days before he was hospitalized at the end of his life. Although he was unable to fight fires during his final years of service, he still drove the ambulance and served as the department’s pumper captain.

“The department was his second home,” said Cottington.

Cottington says her father was not one to like the spotlight. He never asked for help, but he loved helping people. He was always helping people whenever and wherever they needed. “That’s just who he was,” she said.

“I think he would be excited and honored they did this for him,” Cottington said of her father. “Seeing his name on the wall was a great honor and something we will cherish forever.”