MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) – Nearly three weeks after they answered the call to help other first responders in Israel, eight Miami Beach firefighters came home to a warm welcome from family, friends and colleagues.
Loved ones on Sunday morning greeted the returning first responders with hugs outside a fire station along Pine Tree Drive.
Their family, friends and neighbors rallied arounf their firefighters.
“We want to thank each and every one of you for standing in solidarity with Jewish community and Israel and got being willing to have the courage to save lives and to stand with us,” said Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz with Temple Beth Sholom. “We are so grateful.”
Among the eight firefighters who volunteered to travel overseas was Miami Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Adonis Garcia.
“I would do it again in a minute, anytime they need us,” he said. “I think it’s very important that the people understand how much the Israeli people really need us. They were so thankful.”
The South Florida call to action came as the war began and many of Israel’s firefighters left their posts to serve in the war.
“What was particularly meaningful about this endeavor was, it was largely non-Jewish firefighters who responded to the call,” said Pomerantz.
Garcia said he saw the atrocities of Oct. 7 and thought of his Jewish friends and the community he serves.
“That’s where it all began, and there were people in need. I thought it was horrible what I saw on October 7th, and I just wanted to help in any small way I could,” he said.
The team of eight were split in pairs and spread across Israel.
“I really wanted us to be together, but we were there to help them and whatever their needs were is where we were willing to go,” said Garcia.
The first responders battled fires in the midst of a war.
“We were in an area where you had 30 seconds — 30 seconds — to make it to a shelter,” said Garcia. “We’d be in the truck, and you had an [Israel Defense Forces] with a long rifle in the truck with you, and then they’d get out and watch around just to make sure we were safe, but again, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, and I’m ready to go back.”
The call to act and serve was not without sacrifice
“That was the toughest part, was – that was the toughest part,” said Garcia as he held back tears, “but we’re back, we’re back, and I’m happy to be back.”
The firefighters left the ones they love behind
“Hearing my father, who I’m never heard cry in my whole life — never, never cried — cry to me, telling me that he didn’t want me to go, but he was proud of the fact that I was going, and that inspired me even more,” said Garcia.”
They were inspired to do what they could to help, and in the process gained an appreciation of what they have at home.
“We’re very blessed in this country, and I hope we can bring peace back to Israel very soon, Thank you,” said Garcia as he addressed the crowd that gathered outside the fire station.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.