A Chicago firefighter who was killed in the line of duty last year will be honored with a federal building bearing his name.
The Mt. Greenwood station of the U.S. Postal Service, 3349 W. 111th St., will be renamed the “Captain Herbert Johnson Memorial Post Office Building” in honor of the Morgan Park resident who died battling a fire on Nov. 2, 2012.
A bill to rename the facility was introduced by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) last week and cosponsored by 17 other congressional members from Illinois.
In a news release, Lipinski said he introduced HR 3085 to commemorate Johnson’s sacrifice and the bravery of all first responders. Johnson died responding to a fire in the attic of a home on the 2300 block of West 50th Place while on duty at Engine 123, Tower Ladder 39, of the Chicago Fire Department (CFD).
“Capt. Herbie Johnson, like so many of our first responders, served heroically and selflessly. His passing and the outpouring from the community where he lived and served was tremendously moving and inspiring,” Lipinski said in the release. “My legislation to rename the Mt. Greenwood post office makes sure that he will never be forgotten. He was a true hero in every sense of the word.”
A 33-year member of the CFD, Johnson was known throughout the department as a hard-working firefighter and capable leader. He had recently been promoted to captain and was hailed on more than one occasion for his dedication and bravery, according to Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 President Tom Ryan.
Johnson grew up always wanting to be a firefighter, his family said, and served as a mentor in the department, teaching more than 1,000 recruits as an instructor at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy. He volunteered with the rescue efforts in New York after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and served as a frequent volunteer for the Bucks for Burn Camp, which raises money to help young burn survivors. Almost every year he drove a CFD fire truck down Western Avenue for the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Johnson was also a dedicated family man and loyal friend whose affability and sense of humor had a Pied Piper like effect that drew people together. He was survived by his wife of 28 years, Susan, two sons, Thomas and Michael, and a daughter, Laurie. Funeral services, which were held at the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel, drew thousands of people from across the city and country.
In the news release, Susan Johnson thanked Lipinski for organizing the tribute to her late husband.
“This neighborhood was very important to Herbie—we have lived here for 27 years and raised our children here. Many of Herbie’s brothers and sisters live here. I hope that our future grandchildren will grow up here, too,” Susan said. “Herbie was an ordinary man who loved doing his job. He had an extraordinary personality that will never be forgotten. Every day, when we get our mail from ‘Herbie’s post office,’ this will remind us that his spirit lives on and that he continues to be a hero.”
The dedication for the post office, officials said, will take place after the bill is approved in the U.S. House and Senate and signed into law.