A young girl in Australia said her final goodbye to her firefighter father this week after he lost his life battling the wildfires in New South Wales.
20-month-old Charlotte O’Dywer could be seen standing beside Andrew O’Dwyer’s casket in a white dress, her dad’s helmet and a newly presented service medal.
Andrew, 36, was one of two volunteer firefighters who died fighting the deadly blazes southwest of Sydney after a tree fell down and pushed their truck off the road on Dec. 19.
The incident also killed 32-year-old Geoffrey Keaton, a father to his own 20-month-old child, who was born just two days apart from young Charlotte.
Charlotte refused to leave her father’s side during Tuesday’s service, which was held at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Horsley Park, according to 9 News.
During the emotional funeral — attended by Andrew’s wife Melissa, the couple’s other two children, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and countless people from the community — the late firefighter was posthumously awarded a service medal by the Rural Fire Service.
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons delivered a eulogy, telling Charlotte that Andrew, who joined the service in 2003, was a “hero” before pinning the medal on her dress.
“Charlotte should know her father was a selfless and special man, who only left because he was a hero,” he told the crowded church, according to the Daily Mail.
Fitzsimmons gave both Melissa and Andrew’s father Errol RFS flags — the same kind that had been draped over the firefighter’s coffin — and announced that a Horsley Park RFS firetruck will have a special message reading “In memory of Andrew O’Dwyer” on the passenger side door.
Andrew’s casket was later carried from the church with hundreds of volunteers from the RFS standing outside in a guard of honor.
Maori members from the RFS then performed an impromptu haka in honor of Andrew.