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Go Rest High Upon That Mountain

Fire Departments from throughout South Carolina pour into Laurens County for Vinson funeral


“Hmm, I guess you’re going to have to do your job now.”

It was the good-natured reaction of Michael Mike Mike Vinson to any of his fire colleagues messing up or trying to get out of work. Affiliated with fire departments since he was 16, Vinson was laid to rest with firefighting honors on Friday at his home church, Union Baptist, in rural Laurens County. He died Easter Sunday in a firetruck vs car wreck in Clinton, serving in his capacity as a part-time City of Clinton firefighter. Vinson, 27, also was a member of the Laurens County Fire Service.

Michael was the son and the grandson of fire chiefs. He died doing what he loved doing.

“Don’t use me as a crutch. Just go do your job” would be Vinson’s advice to his grieving colleagues in both departments, said Battalion Commander Chris Rooney, in his remembrance.

Rooney said he and Vinson would sit during down time at a picnic table at the firehouse, and solve the problems of all the fire houses “with a little bit of EMS thrown in, too.” When he saw Michael walking around the parking lot, Rooney said he knew the young man was talking on the phone to his mother.

“He was the only one who collected the mail, so every third day he collected it, and the box would be full.”

Rooney said “the brotherhood” of firefighting and first response was on display at Michael’s funeral, represented by the flag flying at the rear of Michael’s pickup – a black and white American Flag with one red stripe. “He is in heaven right now saying, ‘Go get ‘em, brothers.’”

Rev. Bryant Sims, who pastored Union Baptist from 2000 to 2005, remembered Michael as a boy and said he married several members of the Vinson family to their spouses. “As a boy,” Sims said, “he didn’t know anything other than being around the fire department.”

He related the story in John 11 of Jesus at a funeral. He told the assembled family and firefighters, “Don’t blame yourself with ‘if’ questions” as the Lord was confronted by sisters of Lazarus who said, “if you had just been here, this would not have happened.”

“It was Mike’s time,” Sims said. “It was his God-appointed time. … If you feel like crying, don’t hold that back.”

Chaplain Kenny Moore remembered that Mike Mike and other firemen showed up on Easter Morning at a sunrise service. “The brotherhood showed up at church,” he said. “And if there was a meal, yeah, they’ll show up. (That morning) they sat for breakfast, and Mike Mike and Billy Bob looked like they were having an eating contest.”

  Quoting Proverbs 27:1, Moore reminded the mourners in the church, those watching a live-stream on the church’s front lawn, and those watching at the overflow location, Chesnut Ridge Baptist Church, “There is never a time God does not love you.”

In the church, the service featured the songs “Lead Me Home” (Jamey Johnson), “When I Get to Where I’m Going” (Brad Paisley), “Down by the River To Pray” (Alison Krauss), and at the graveside service, “You Should Be Here” (Cole Swindell) and “Go Rest High” (Vince Gill).

After Taps, the removal and folding of the flag, the presentations of flags and helmets, the Bell Ceremony and The Last Call, a bagpiper presented “Amazing Grace”.