Hundreds gathered in Newtown Friday morning to pay their respects to a fallen hero.
Several local enforcement agencies and fire attended the procession for Longtime Sandy Hook Fire Chief Bill Halstead.
Sandy Hook Fire said the chief became ill at his home after responding to an unspecified call on Friday and died shortly after.
Inside the church, those who've worked with him for years shared their first impressions of the longtime hero and stressed his loyalty and commitment to his job.
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"He simply wanted the best for his firefighters and he wanted everyone to do their job and get home safely," one speaker said.
The department said he joined the volunteer fire department in 1965 at the age of 16 and served as chief of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue since 1978.
He has been described as a well-respected man, known for being blunt and having a dry sense of humor.
Kevin Cragin, former fire commissioner for Sandy Hook said, "I always remember when Bill came into the meeting. I'm all excited about what I was first going to interact with him about and the first words out of his mouth were, 'Cragin, put out that cigarette. I’m not sitting here with smoke in my face for the next 20 minutes.'"
His colleagues, friends and family say it's not easy to forget Bill.
"I hope every single one of you will remember what a wonderful man he was," another speaker commented.
Halstead also served as fire chief during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.