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August 5, 2009 > Thomas Marovich, Jr.

Thomas Marovich, Jr.

By Simon Wong

A requiem mass was held for US Forest Service Firefighter Thomas "TJ" Marovich Jr. on Thursday, July 30, at St. Clement's Catholic Church, Calhoun Street, Hayward. Father Kenneth Sales officiated.

Marovich Jr., 20, was a Hayward resident and a 2007 graduate of James Logan High School, Union City.

He died on July 22 from injuries sustained the previous day when he fell 200 ft during a rappel exercise at the Backbone Helibase, Willow Creek, California. The training occurs every two weeks as part of re-certification for firefighters.

Known as "TJ" to friends and family for Tom Junior, his ambition from an early age was to become a firefighter.

Marovich Jr. joined Fremont Fire Department Fire Explorers in 2003, aged 14, becoming a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), an instructor and Explorer Advisor after four years. He continued to serve as an advisor until his untimely death.

On leaving high school and completion of his basic fire training, he volunteered with the Medoc National Forest and was appointed Fire Prevention Technician in July 2007. This was a seasonal position.

He began serving as an apprentice firefighter with the United States Forest Service on Engine 44, Adin, California from October 2007 through the 2008 fire season. He attended the basic wildland firefighter academy (Academy 47) in McClellan, California, in March 2009 and joined the Chester Fly Crew from the Lassen National Forest. This was his second year in the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program. His unit was assigned to the Backbone Fire, which began on July 4, in Trinity County.

The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program equips firefighters with the skills and disciplines necessary to combat wildland fires. The program is a joint venture between the US Forest Service, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Labor.

More than 500 family, friends and uniformed personnel from the US Forest Service, Cal Fire, neighboring fire departments, police departments and other public safety agencies paid their respects. The overflow of approximately 200 mourners from the church gathered behind the building to watch and listen to the service on a jumbotron before the funeral cortege slowly made its way along Mission Boulevard to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery where Tom Marovich Jr. was laid to rest. He was accorded full honors.

"When a fellow firefighter passes, we all wish to pay our respects and celebrate that individual," said John Heil III, Regional Press Officer, US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. "Members of the agency share a sense of belonging and family. He was well-liked and respected by all his co-workers."

Marovich Jr. volunteered with the Adin Fire Protection District when off duty and often returned to the Bay Area to teach Fire Science at Mission Valley ROP, Fremont, where he was a former Student of the Year.

"TJ loved what he did, helped people wherever he could and did so willingly with his "million-dollar smile." Our family thanks you for your love and support through this time of great loss and asks that you always remember our son as the hero he truly was," stated the Marovich family.

Thomas Marovich Jr. is survived by his parents, Thomas and Judy Marovich of Hayward, sister Christy Marovich of Hayward, grandmother Virginia Marovich of Palo Alto and grandparents Regis and Louise Blutas of Missouri.

Donations may be made as follows:

Thomas D. Marovich Jr. Memorial Fund
32124 Trevor Avenue, Hayward, CA 94544
Donations will be used to send Fremont Fire Explorers to the California Fire Explorer Academy.

Fremont Firefighters Local 1689
Attn: Tom Marovich Fund
P.O. Box 1134, Fremont, CA 94538
Donations will be used to assist with funeral expenses.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation accepts donations in the name of a loved one that has passed to help cover family, memorial or funeral expenses. Extra or additional funds are set aside in the general donation fund and are critical to the Foundation's ability to help the next family in need of financial assistance and support when a death or injury occurs.

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