Rep. Lipinski Introduces Bill to Honor Fallen Chicago Firefighter
To honor a longtime Chicago firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty and to pay tribute to all first responders, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has introduced H.R. 3085, a bill to rename the post office in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community after Chicago Fire Capt. Herbert “Herbie” Johnson. The 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department and resident of Chicago’s Morgan Park community died last year while fighting a house fire on the city’s South Side.
“Capt. Herbie Johnson, like so many of our first responders, served heroically and selflessly. His passing and the outpouring from the community where he lived and served was tremendously moving and inspiring,” Rep. Lipinski said. “My legislation to rename the Mount Greenwood Post Office makes sure that he will never be forgotten. I am proud and honored to have worked with Capt. Johnson’s family, friends, and brothers and sisters in the fire department on this lasting tribute to someone who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting others from harm. He was a true ‘hero’ in every sense of the word.”
An outgoing, caring and dedicated public servant, Capt. Johnson was popular and well-liked throughout the Mount Greenwood, Beverly, and Morgan Park communities on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Almost every year he drove the fire truck down Western Avenue for the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In 2007, he received the state’s highest award for firefighters, the Illinois Medal of Honor, for rescuing several children from a burning apartment.
On Nov. 2, 2012, Capt. Johnson died while battling flames in the attic of a two-story home in Chicago’s Englewood community. He was 54 years old. Capt. Johnson was survived by his wife of 28 years, Susan, two sons, Thomas and Michael, and a daughter, Laurie. Services at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel drew thousands of mourners over two days.
Following the tragedy, Rep. Lipinski’s office reached out to the family, neighborhood officials and leaders, as well as the Chicago Fire Department, to discuss commemorating Johnson’s sacrifice and the bravery displayed each day by the men and women in our police and fire departments. Rep. Lipinski’s legislation, cosponsored by the other 17 members from Illinois in the House of Representatives, would designate the Mount Greenwood Post Office, 3349 W. 111th St., in Chicago, the “Captain Herbert Johnson Memorial Post Office Building.”
“I would like to thank Congressman Lipinski for arranging this incredible honor for Herbie and our family. This neighborhood was very important to Herbie – we have lived here for 27 years and raised our children here. Many of Herbie’s brothers and sisters live here. I hope that our future grandchildren will grow up here, too,” said his widow, Susan Johnson. “Herbie was an ordinary man who loved doing his job. He had an extraordinary personality that will never be forgotten. Every day, when we get our mail from ‘Herbie’s post office,’ this will remind us that his spirit lives on and that he continues to be a hero.”
Capt. Johnson came from a family of public servants. Three of his brothers are Chicago police officers. A sister is a retired Chicago police officer. Another brother is a Chicago firefighter. Capt. Johnson served in almost every Chicago neighborhood as a firefighter, but his heart belonged to the Southwest Side.
“Herbie Johnson was a great friend, an admired and respected leader in the Chicago Fire Department, and a beloved figure in our neighborhood,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea. “Thanks to Congressman Lipinski and this legislation, Herbie's incredible heart, quick wit, and unique sense of humor will be in our hearts and minds forever.”
Capt. Johnson was active in many causes dear to the Chicago Fire Department. In addition to serving as a mentor to many firefighters, Johnson taught more than 1,000 recruits as an instructor at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he volunteered with the rescue efforts in New York City. He also was known to cook for various charity events and offer his time at a camp founded by a friend for young burn victims — the “Bucks for Burn Camp.”
“It is extremely difficult whenever we lose a member while in the performance of their duty. Brother Herbie Johnson died while doing the job that he loved. His death, however, was a huge loss for his family, his friends and his neighborhood,” said Tom Ryan, President of the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2. “The naming of the Mount Greenwood post office in Herbie's honor will leave a lasting tribute to the legacy of a man who always put the happiness and safety of others ahead of his own.”
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