Capt. Bill Dowling remembered as man of faith and fight

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Capt. Dowling lived by station 68's motto: "Fueled by fire, driven by courage."

Houston Fire Department Captain Bill Dowling was remembered as a man of faith and fight. He was a firefighter who knew the risks and was willing to take them anyway.

More than 2,000 people were in attendance for Dowling's memorial service at Houston Baptist University.

"Today will be a celebration for the life of this brave soul," HFD Sr. Capt. Michael Mire said, beginning the service.

A tribute video played at the beginning of the service showed images of Dowling in happier times. It's the way many wish to remember him.
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More than 2,000 people were in attendance for Dowling's memorial service at Houston Baptist University.

Family, friends and fellow firefighters gave the Dowling family a standing ovation, honoring their sacrifice and what they have endured.

Dowling, also known as Iron Bill, survived nearly four years following a fire at the Southwest Inn that claimed the lives of four fellow Houston firefighters. Dowling died last week, a result of the critical injuries he sustained in the inferno.

He knew that day how badly he had been injured. "He told the paramedics on board to, 'Tell my family I'm fighting for them,'" said HFD Capt. Michael Mire.

He lived by station 68's motto, "Fueled by fire, driven by courage."

His wife, Jacki, read from a prayer that she found in his duffel bag in the days after the fire. It was a message she said he wanted to share.

"It said, 'Lord, please use me to lead others to you.' Right then I knew why Bill was chosen. I knew why Bill was laying in that bed. Why his legs were amputated. Why he was suffering. Because he had asked God to use him to reach others," Jacki said.

Jacki hopes others will hear his words and not only find comfort but find a way to continue on. It is his strength that she said has helped her cope.

Watch Jacki's full speech
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Wife of Capt. Bill Dowling, Jacki, speaks at memorial service

SKYEYE: Firefighters arrive to site of Dowling memorial
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SkyEye view of flag being raised for Capt. Bill Dowling

Dowling's son, Foster, fought back tears as he shared his memories of his father.

"Without a doubt, he is the greatest dad anyone could ever ask for," Foster said. "He was a dad that was at every possible game, even when he would come home from a three-day shift with no sleep."

Watch Foster's full speech
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Capt. Dowling's son speaks at memorial service

He was a father who spoke often of his children to his colleagues.

"If I only had a dollar for every time I heard one of their names or heard him talk about one of their games. I would not be worried about my pension," said Senior HFD Captain David Armstrong.

That comment, a direct reflection of the firefighter's pension, currently being debated in the state legislature.

This weekend Dowling's body arrived from Colorado in a flag-draped casket to a city-wide procession. Fresh flowers have been left outside the Southwest Inn all week since he passed.

RELATED: Captain "Iron Bill" Dowling honored during 'homecoming'
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WATCH: HFD erects American flag at Houston Baptist University
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Firefighters raise flag for Capt. Bill Dowling from Houston Baptist University campus

Firefighters came to Houston from across the country, all here to honor Dowling. And thousands of people who did not know Dowling gathered to watch the procession before the service.

Dowling's life and legacy will not be forgotten. His family received a flag from Marines during the service and a Medal of Honor from the International Association of firefighters.

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The community gathered to support the Dowling family before the memorial service.

SEE ALSO: Firefighters from across Texas come to honor Captain "Iron Bill" Dowling
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Firefighters are traveling across the state to honor Captain "Iron Bill" Dowling.

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