Parents of fallen Wash. firefighter: "Always our hero"

Aug 20, 2015 8:06 PM by News Staff

TWISP, Wash.-- The firefighters who died were ranged in age from 20 to 31. They were among 29,000 firefighters battling the western fires.

Richard and Jennifer Zbyszewski are now grieving the loss of their only son.

"And the light of our lives," Richard said. "Wish I could take this day back and just not let him go to work."

"And the light of our lives," repeated Jennifer. "The center of our lives. He's our only child."

"It's gonna be hard to go on without him to tell you the truth," said Richard.

Just 20 years old, Tom Zbyszewski was set to begin his junior year in college next week, studying both physics and Chinese. This was his second summer fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service, in his own community.

"Being able to help protect the homes of he people he knew," said Jennifer. "That was important to him."

Andrew Zajac, 26 and Richard Wheeler, 31, have been identified as the other two firefighters who were killed.

Battling fires was a family affair for the Zbyszewski's. Tom's dad Richard was a firefighter and his mother still works for the Forest Service.

"I was more proud of him than I could ever express," said his mother Jennifer through tears. "We know that he would want us and everyone to be happy. So that's what we have to do, work towards that to you know, to get to the point when we can feel be happy again."

"I don't know when that's gonna happen," said Richard.

"But I know that's what he would want," Jennifer added.

Zbyszewski and the two others who died have been called brave American's by the president.

"I mean it's nice that he was considered a hero," said Jennifer about her son.

"He was always a hero us," said Richard.

"He was always our hero," repeated Jennifer. "And we would rather have him not be a hero and be home with us today."


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