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Firefighter remembered with memorial

By BY ADRIANA ACOSTA
July 11, 2010 at 2:11 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2010 at 2:12 a.m.

Photos by LANCE BOOTH/LBOOTH@VICAD.COM Firefighters carry out the casket of Thomas Araguz III after his funeral. Araguz died in the line of duty on July 4th.

WHARTON - Nikki Araguz will always remember her husband's smile.

"All he had to do is flash that smile and my heart would melt," she said at the funeral of her husband, Capt. Thomas Araguz III.

The 11-year veteran of the Wharton Fire Department died last week while fighting a massive fire at the Maxim Egg production plant.

The service at the Wharton Civic Center was filled to its 650-seat capacity, plus more standing to remember the 30-year-old.

The group included family, friends and more than 100 firefighters from several counties.

The tear-filled audience listened as his wife continued talking about their life together.

"I can't imagine sharing a secret or joke with anyone else but him," she said, crying.

This August would have marked two years of marriage for them.

Letters from his two sons were read to the audience by a fellow firefighter.

"I will miss your barbecues and our talks," read one of the letters from his 9-year-old son, Trevor.

Wharton Fire Department Chief Bobby Barnett remembers Araguz as an aggressive and fearless firefighter who took pride in washing the fire trucks and working out.

Barnett remembers one instance in which Araguz wanted to help boost moral within the fire department and asked to bring workout equipment.

The chief came back to the station to find Araguz setting up 30 pieces of workout equipment.

Araguz came from behind a piece of equipment, flashed a smile and then Barnett said, "Good job."

"I know he is looking down at us and saying 'Good job,' " Barnett said, fighting back tears.

A firefighter rang a bell eight times to make a final salute to the fallen firefighter. Seven rings noted that his service is complete, and the final one noted his service is over.

Accompanying the ringing of the bell, a Wharton county dispatcher called out the passing of a firefighter throughout the county over the scanner.

Barnett passed down two real Wharton firefighter helmets to both Araguz's sons.

Already, his oldest son knows what he has to do. "Don't worry I am your little man," said Trevor in one of the letters addressed to his father. "I will take care of mom."

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