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My Dad the Firefighter, My Dad the Hero

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2022 3:02 am

My Dad the Firefighter, My Dad the Hero

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 11, 2022 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Caleb Bailey shares his family’s story of hope and redemption after loss.

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Visit a Mattress Firm store near you or go to This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. Up next, we have a story from a young man named Caleb Bailey.

Caleb is from California and recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina for work. Here he is sharing his family's story, beginning with his dad, who from a very young age wanted to be a firefighter. My dad wanted to be a firefighter so bad when he was a kid that he set his backyard on fire just so the fire department would show up.

He was so excited to see them and, you know, my poor grandma was just like, I don't know how to explain this to you. And then it's funny, you fast forward a few or some years later and he is a firefighter. He had a heart for serving others in that capacity.

But when I was born, 10 days after I was born, my dad, Joseph Dupie, was killed in the line of duty as a Los Angeles City firefighter. He was a captain and had been on the job for a while at that point. He was responding to a structure fire early in the morning. It was a pet food factory and as him and his crew were fighting it, they decided to exit the building because the structure was kind of collapsing. And so he got a signal from one of the emergency devices there that they use if any of them are lost or trapped or anything.

And they'll set off that signal and the rest of the crew will go and find them and help them out. And one of his crew members dropped his and that's what set it off. So actually no one was really in danger, but they didn't know. So he went back in to find that member. And so while he was in, he walked into a room where the roof collapsed and knocked his face mask off. So he was inhaling all the smoke and toxins and stuff. And then an oven in the building actually exploded and blew out and knocked him out at that point. So his crew members were close behind and came and found him and dragged him out.

But by the time they tried to do CPR and rushed him to the hospital, he was already gone at that point. So my mom received the news that morning. Mike Hilliger, who's the chaplain, was the one who told my mom about my dad. She's told me a few times about what was going through her mind when she got that news.

Obviously a billion things. You've lost your breadwinner of the family. You don't have any finances. You've lost the father of your two sons. And possibly most important of all, she lost her soulmate.

This is her husband, and she married for years. And he was just gone, and now they had to figure out life. And that's a dark place to be.

It's a place where most people would give up, especially realizing that these two little boys of yours have a lifetime of hurt and hardship ahead of them because of this. So they went to the hospital, and many people from her church were there. Many people from the fire department and surrounding stations as well were nearby and supporting her. It was the first fatality on duty that the L.A. City Fire Department had seen in a long time. Years, maybe decades.

I'm not sure the actual number. So it not only shook those of us who were close to my dad, but just everyone in the department. It was a really dark time for L.A. City.

And so, yeah, that's where we stood in February or March of 1998. A family barely getting started as a family, and now they're just ripped apart. And it's a pretty hopeless situation when you look at it any way that you cut it. It's just tragic.

It's sad. You hear stories like this all the time about people, and different people deal with those things differently. My mom could have given up and felt no hope, which I'm sure she did at many points. But she didn't give up. She resolved to raise her two sons to love on them regardless of what the next 10, 20, 30 years brought. And whether or not her husband was there alongside her. So, yeah, all of that, like I've said, you can read about all that online.

All those reports are on L.A. City firefighter websites and the incident reports and the background on my dad. But a lot happened after that. And you won't read about those online, but they're the biggest parts of the story. So the first one is my uncle Robert Dupie, who was Joe's brother. He was similar to Joe in a lot of ways.

They're both just always up to no good and pulling pranks and doing rowdy things. But in terms of his faith and his morals, you couldn't have been more different. He hated everything about the church and the Bible and Christianity, no matter how much his brother presented it to him and pleaded with him about it.

He wanted nothing to do with it. And my dad would pray at night. My mom told me, Lord, please save Robert, like whatever it takes, even if it means taking my own life. Would you save him?

And we kind of laugh a little bit at that sometimes. Say careful what you pray for. But they got the news of my dad dying and my uncle was driving to the hospital. And he remembers just parking his car, turning the car off and looking up and just saying, all right, you have my attention. And as soon as he walked in that building, he saw something that you don't see in these situations very often.

And it was the love of the church, the love of family, the love of the fire department all surrounding my mom. And it overwhelmed him, you know, and it was something that stood out and was different than what he'd experienced in his life. And so he spent the next few months asking questions and wanting to know what it was that Joe believed. You know, what was this faith? He asked one of Joe's friends from church, will I ever see my brother again? Like, I want to see him again.

You know, a few months later, he accepted Christ and started attending church regularly and wanted to not only live on his brother's legacy, but more importantly, to know the savior that his brother did. And you're listening to Caleb Bailey tell the story of his father, his mother, and his father's brother, and how he and his family dealt with a great loss, a great tragedy. When we come back, more of this remarkable story about faith, love, and so much more here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country, stories from our big cities and small towns.

But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to our American stories dot com and click the donate button. Give a little give a lot.

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There's a better way to fly private. And we return to our American stories. And we've been listening to Caleb Bailey share his family story. Caleb's birth dad died when he was just 10 days old in the line of duty as an L.A. firefighter. Through this tragedy, Caleb's uncle Robert came to Christ, but Caleb's mother was left a young widow and Caleb and his older brother Luke were left fatherless. Back to Caleb for the rest of the story. So then life goes on for our family.

Just two boys and a mom trying to make it by. And one of my mom's friends had a mutual friend named Kevin Bailey, who was also a firefighter. The fact that she thought my mom would want to marry another firefighter is crazy. But it worked and introduced the two of them at a Super Bowl party and they hit it off. And that was Kevin Bailey.

And I could talk your ear off about Kevin Bailey. He had been working for a while and was single, living in Southern California. And he was looking to get married and was blown away by my mom's story. In fact, before he had met my mom at that Super Bowl party, he had heard her speak at a firefighter event regarding my dad's death. And he was blown away. He was just like because she spent that whole time just giving the gospel.

You know, here she was in front of hundreds of people in L.A. city and she was just giving the gospel. And he was like, whoa, that's that's different. Apparently, the two little rascals she was dragging along her side didn't scare him off. So he went on some dates with her.

It speaks a lot to his character that during that time, before they were even married, he would be coming over for dinner. He would be watching us. If my mom had some event she needed to go to, he would babysit us.

When I had pneumonia and I was in the hospital at a year old, he was there supporting my mom, taking care of me and hanging out with my my older brother, Luke. Obviously, my dad was interested by based on the fact that he stuck around my mom and me and Luke. And so as he was dating her, he kind of went to our pastor at our church and said, hey, look, I don't know what the next step would be or how soon that step would be, but I think I want to marry this woman. And my pastor just looked at him and said, hey, you either fish or cut bait. She's got two sons and those sons need a dad and she needs a husband at this point.

So you better make a decision. And so I guess my dad went with the fish instead of cutting bait and married my mom in 1999 in July and adopted me and Luke. So he was now my mom's husband and our dad.

And people ask me sometimes, you know, was there ever any weird points in your upbringing? Just kind of like dealing with your stepdad and trying to navigate that and kind of the power dynamics or the parenting models and all those things. And I just tell them he wasn't my stepdad. Like legally, he was my my legal dad.

And it wasn't just a legal obligation either. The way he raised us made it really easy to be his son because he was a great father. They had two more sons, my younger brothers, Brock and Rylan.

So we had four boys in our house and it was chaos all the time. But nothing really surprised my mom at that point after all she'd been through. So my dad retired from the fire department in 2010 or 2012. I can't remember.

I'm pretty sure it's 10. A man on his crew, Glenn Allen, actually died that year responding to a fire as a roof collapsed on a building. And my mom just said, hey, that's enough.

You know, I can't I can't be going to bed every night with you at the station and knowing that that could be you and go through all this all over again. So he retired after 30 years on the department. They've been present and very active in our lives. So six months back, I moved from California to Asheville, North Carolina. So Uncle Robert, he's one of the few family members of Joe that we've been in close contact with. He made quite an effort after everything happened to still be around to to support my mom, to love on me and my my older brother to spend time with us. And I actually visited him this past summer on my way down to North Carolina.

They live in Nashville, Tennessee. And so I spent time about five hours that first night. They're just kind of hearing stories about my dad, hearing kind of what went down on site of the incident, which was kind of a huge moment because I hadn't heard those things for a long time and not for bad reason. I mean, I just had never asked my mom. You don't really want to bring up those things unnecessarily. If I were her, I wouldn't really want to revisit that situation a ton.

So I wanted to be consider in that sense. And it wasn't of the utmost importance that I knew about some of those things. But my uncle didn't mind talking about it.

So we talked through some of those things. And then he told me he had the actual original tape of the funeral. There were a couple of funerals, actually.

The L.A. City Fire Department did one and then Grace Community Church held another. One of the most impactful things about that video was watching my mom. Naturally, my eyes were just kind of directed towards her and just kind of seeing how she dealt with it. My mom is so sweet and so emotional, too, in both the highs and the lows. So she gets the most excited about our achievements and our accomplishments, but she cries very easily, too. So I was just expecting her to be in a pool of tears during this video. And I kid you not, the whole time I watched it, she wasn't crying once. She had her two sons with her and she had to be strong for them. Obviously, she wasn't pretending like nothing happened deep down. Her heart was being ripped out. There's a whole range of emotions from overwhelming support of all these people being here for the service and then the reality of her husband being dead.

And yet she stood there and welcomed all the hugs, welcomed all the love and the condolences from people around. There's one little clip where they cut in and it's close and she's holding my older brother, Luke, who's two at that time. And she's pointing out things on the fire truck like, hey, that's kind of cool. You see that?

Oh, you see the big fire truck? And it's just like here she is facing the biggest moment of her life, the biggest tragedy of her life right in the face. And she's raising her son at the same time and knows that that's going to be the next, you know, rest of her life is doing that regardless of what happens. And she was strong in that and she's continued to be strong. Even if she's emotional, she doesn't crack. You know, she has been joyful all throughout our upbringing, even when a lot of it wasn't joyful. So, yeah, even talking to her, I talked to her today because yesterday was the anniversary, 24 year anniversary. So I was talking to her today and I told her, people always ask me how I process through that situation.

Like, how can I pray for you? What's difficult about it? And that's understandable. But the reality is there's not much grief in it.

You know, obviously in that time and at the moment there was, I was too young to really experience that. The only emotion that I feel is just being overwhelmed, seeing the Lord's kindness and providing through all of that. And she said that's exactly how she feels, which says a lot because she was the one that, you know, bore the brunt of what happened. And yet today, you know, 24 years later, she's saying, yeah, it's not sad. It's only like incredible what's happened.

There's so much redemption in the midst of all of it. Like if I were to plan that out from a third person perspective, I'd be like, they have a happy life as a family. Nothing bad happens to them. Okay, that's cool. That's great. That would be a good situation.

And then the Lord says, no, I'm going to take the husband out of the picture. And you're going, what in the world? That's not only a bad idea. That's the worst possible idea.

Like that's complete opposite. What are you thinking? And then he goes, but through that, I'm going to save his brother. And then through that, I'm going to provide another dad for this family. They're going to get more people to their family. And those, that whole family will know me as a result and praise me. And then they're going to tell this story to hundreds of thousands of people in the future. And those people know the story. Now, yeah, your whole thing with the family being happy and complete and everything, that's special.

But this is something different. He can redeem those things that are broken way better than we could ever picture it. And a terrific job, a beautiful job on the production by faith and a special thanks to Caleb Bailey for sharing his story. And my goodness, his mother comes off as one heck of a star. She lost a breadwinner, lost the father of two sons, lost her soulmate and had to figure out life.

He said she could have given up, but she didn't. Caleb Bailey's story, his family's story here on Our American Story. Hey, it's your fave pop culture queen, Paris Hilton here with big news. I've created my very own 3D interactive world starting November 11th. Come visit Paris Hilton's Slivingland. It's a place full of magic, fun and surprises where you can hunt for hidden treasures and unlock some adorable digital outfits. I'll be there, too. So be sure to say hi. Sign up now so you can join right in when Slivingland goes live on Friday, November 11th. Check out today.

See you there. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort earbuds to next gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort earbuds, too. Soundshaped to you. To learn more, visit
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-19 00:04:49 / 2022-11-19 00:13:43 / 9

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