Local fire departments organize drive-by parade for retired firefighter battling cancer

Panama City

PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Friday, firefighters from across Bay County put together a parade to honor one of their own.

John Strickland worked with the Panama City Fire Department for 27 years and is now receiving hospice care at home as he battles stage four lung cancer.

Even years after Strickland retired, the Panama City Fire Departments’ brotherhood holds strong. Retired Assistant Fire Chief, Gary Wells, said they all come together when someone needs their support. 

“He’s just a brother in arms,” Wells said. “We respect him so much and that’s what it is all about just showing that we really respect him and we are praying for him and we just want the best for John.” 

Members from multiple fire departments as well as motorcycle groups paraded down the street for Strickland.

Fred Bragshaw said this day was all about uplifting their brother and friend. 

“He’s the one man that I have had in my life that had my back no matter what happened and what the conditions were at in the fire,” Bragshaw said.

Some worked with Strickland for years, others didn’t know him as well. But no matter what, Panama City Fire Department Division Chief, Scott Flitcraft, said he will be remembered as a legend. 

“Pick up a large hose line and open the nozzle with it over your shoulder just doesn’t get done,” Flitcraft said. “I have only seen that one time in my career and John Strickland was the one that did that.”

Strickland worked with Panama City Fire from 1977 to 2004. 

His friends and family say he’s funny, smart and full of heart. 

Strickland still needs help paying for his medical bills – Click HERE to donate.

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