He gave his time, his love and his soul to fellow firefighter families in need. Tragically, he gave his life as a hero on the LAFD. Now the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund is giving back to the family of fallen Firefighter III Henry Munoz. His son, Jacob, now awarded a $25,000 scholarship to pursue his dreams. At an emotional ceremony at the Los Angeles Firemen’s Association, the umbrella organization that runs our firefighter charity, feelings mixed with sorrow and happiness. A celebration of a life honored and revered. Watch as his family remembers Henry for all the lives he’s helped and the lived he’s changed. The scholarship Jacob earned is a tribute not only to his accomplishments, but also to his firefighter father, who saved lives and simply made other people’s lives better.
Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund: Making Dreams Come True
The volunteers and sponsors of the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund are making a difference during the ultimate time of need for our LAFD firefighter families. It is only with their generosity that the charity can step in and help Jacob pursue a career in business. He is going to California Lutheran University, attending the School of Management in the MBA program. Awarded the Dennis Mendenhall Memorial Scholarship, given to a dependent of a Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association member who passed away while serving active duty, Jacob says the additional $25,000 is an incredible gift.
Henry’s widow Kate says, “We were very excited to find out that Jacob would be receiving the scholarship to continue his education and get his master’s degree. It was very unexpected, I feel, and it just is a great help to our family. Just in the light of my husband passing two years ago and with two other kids to worry about as well, it really makes a huge difference for us.”
Jacob says, “So my more immediate career goal, I’ll be pursuing a career in sales. And my more long-term career goal would be hopefully one day to be a business owner. I think that having an opportunity to maybe start a business with my family has always been something I’ve kind of dreamed of. So, I definitely think that’s my long-term goal.”
His message to donors? Jacob says, “To the donors and supporters. Again, I could not be more grateful for this opportunity that you have bestowed upon me. I think that it is extremely special to give back to the Relief Association, and it’s obviously a great program that has helped me and my family tremendously, and I again, could not thank you enough for it.”
As for Jacob winning the scholarship, Kate says Henry would be elated “Oh yeah. I mean, he’d be beyond proud. I mean, it would just a culmination of just everything that he wanted for them, for him, for all the kids.”
Tribute to Fallen LAFD Firefighter III Henry Munoz
The Los Angeles City Fire Department is still grieving the active-duty death of LAFD Firefighter III Henry Munoz. He sadly passed away on July 22, 2021. He was only 50 years old. Leaving behind his wife, Kate and his children Jacob, Julie and Jackie.
Henry died from that secret killer many firefighters face on the job. Cancer. In March of 2018 doctors discovered a large tumor deep within Henry’s brain, and he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Despite the risks, Jacob says, Henry loved being a firefighter. “Definitely the idea of just being able to help people every day. Something that he never took for granted or never took lightly. And always, he would always say that. And my mom’s a teacher as well, so he was very big on emphasizing being of service to other people and serving a greater purpose than yourself.”
Remembering our LAFD Hero
Henry began his career with the LAFD on May 21, 2001. His most recent field assignment was Fire Station 107, serving the Chatsworth community. He achieved the rank of Firefighter III in his time with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
Becoming a firefighter was a lifelong goal, and he was honored to serve his community. He loved his job and enjoyed the many opportunities it provided him.
During his career, Henry was honored with a department commendation for saving the life of a man that was unconscious inside a house that was on fire. Had Henry not discovered this individual, the man would not have survived.
The National Fallen Firefighters Association says, “Henry had many hobbies. The most prominent of these was his love of driving and working on classic cars. Even before he got his driver’s license, he had saved his money to buy a 1953 Ferrari Red Chevy truck. He favored Chevy vehicles, acquiring a 1967 El Camino, a 1968 Malibu, and a 1969 short-bed truck that he shared with his dad. The final classic he would buy was a 1968 Ford Bronco that he had planned to restore, but sadly was not able to finish.”
Leading by Example: Respected Firefighter, Best Friend, and Dedicated Dad
Kate says Henry loved the great outdoors, “Well, he was a really, really, good dad. Very strict, but loving. And he would always do things with them that he enjoyed as a kid, like motorcycle riding or camping. We never took big vacations. We actually never went on an airplane as a family. Any kind of vacations we did were pretty local. We had a motor home. And that was his thing, he loved camping. He loved getting out and just doing things with them. He didn’t really help too much with homework. That was kind of my thing. But he was very encouraging of them to do their best and always be on top of their work. And I think the greatest thing that he gave to them was his work ethic and just being a good person and leading by example. I think that they could see how many people in other circles would look up to him. And I think that definitely made an impact on them as like, ‘well, that’s my dad. Yeah, he’s a fireman, a coach. He is a family man.’ He was just a great dad.”
Henry was the oldest of three boys raised by his parents, Henry Sr. and Rosemarie. His brother Joe was two years younger than Henry, and his brother Manny was 16 years younger. Henry took his role as eldest very seriously. He married his wife, Kate, in 1998, and they had three children.
“Most people would say Henry was their best friend,” says the National Fallen Firefighters Association. “That’s how he made people feel. It didn’t matter how long you had known him; he had a way of making everyone feel special. His smile and laugh were infectious. He is greatly missed.”
By Charles Stewart