Thousands celebrate life of slain Long Beach Fire Department Captain David Rosa

By Lou Ponsi

David Rosa’s job was saving lives.

While the Long Beach Fire Department captain was attempting to do exactly that, it was his life that was taken.

Thousands of mourners filled the Long Beach Convention Center’s Pacific Ballroom on Tuesday, July 3, to pay their final respects to Rosa, 45, a 17-year veteran of the department, who was shot and killed June 25 while responding to an explosion at a senior living facility.

People make their way into the Pacific Ballroom in Long Beach at the start of the memorial service for Capt. David Rosa.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rows of firefighters, lining opposite ends of the courtyard leading to the entrance of the ballroom, stood at attention and saluted as a fire department honor guard slowly wheeled Rosa’s casket, draped with an American flag, into the ballroom.

“He would have never asked for this much,” said Todd Rodarmel, pastor of Mountain View Church in San Juan Capistrano. “He would have given it, though.”

Family and friends line up as firefighters march in for the memorial service of Capt. David Rosa.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Eulogized by members of his family, his firefighter family and his community in San Juan Capistrano, Rosa was described as a man who was constantly doting over his wife, Lynley, and his sons, Alec and Samuel.

“Dave knew the value of family and always made it a priority,” said Chris Hensley, Rosa’s brother-in-law. “He was a champion of a father, a champion of a husband, and a champion of a man.”

The casket containing Long Beach Fire Capt. David Rosa is brought past Long Beach Fire Engine 10 at the start of his memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Hensley, Rosa and their families were scheduled to go hiking July 3.

Family friend and San Juan Capistrano resident Cherise Matthews described Rosa as a devout Christian, a man of integrity and character, a mentor and a “totally engaged dad” who was loving toward everyone.

A vintage fire engine, lead by horses, makes its way to the Pacific Ballroom.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“We absolutely treasured Dave,” Matthews said. “If I every asked anyone if they knew Dave Rosa, their response was always, ‘I love that guy.’”

Rosa was an avid Dodgers fan, Matthews said.

He served as president of San Juan Capistrano Little League and as an umpire.

Pall bearers Sam Rosa, Alec Rosa, Andy Chan, Joe Billish, Ernesto Torres, Craig Wilson, Ron Matthews and Dave Kogler make their way past the color guard as they carry the casket of Capt. David Rosa to the Pacific Ballroom in Long Beach.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“He loved people and served them,” Matthews said. “Even though he became a hero to the world, Dave taught me was that you just need to be a hero to the person right in front of you … to know that every single individual in your life matters.”

Rosa, who grew up in Long Beach, became a Los Angeles County Fire Explorer at 16.

He was an EMT and then a paramedic for an ambulance company before being hired by the Long Beach Fire Department in 2001.

Firefighters line up as they march in for the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Rosa had assignments at several stations. He earned the rank of captain in 2011.

His final assignment was at Station 10 in midtown Long Beach.

Rosa also was a training captain who worked with new firefighters and recruits in the training academy. He received numerous commendations throughout his career.

Helicopters fly in formation at the start of the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“From the moment I met him, I knew Dave was cool under pressure,” said Long Beach Fire Chief Michael DuRee, who worked with Rosa at Station 9 for a brief period of time. “He was known for his calm, deliberate demeanor that was both disarming and reassuring at the same time.”

Said longtime friend John Weninger: “Dave was a deliberate memory maker. Dave made a conscious effort to make memories on purpose and to make them matter to those around him so they can hold on to that moment for the rest of their lives, and he did an excellent job at it.”

Chris Hensley of the Carlsbad Fire Department talks about his brother-in-law, Capt. David Rosa, as family members and friends line up to tell their stories.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The casket containing Capt. David Rosa is brought in to the Long Beach Pacific Ballroom at the start of his memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Brian Pancarik talks about his brother, Capt. David Rosa, during a memorial service at the Long Beach Pacific Ballroom.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Bagpipers play at the start of the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Alec Rosa talks about his father, Long Beach Fire Capt. David Rosa, during the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

With his father’s firefighting gear and photographs behind him, Alec Rosa talks about his father, Capt. David Rosa, during a memorial service at the Long Beach Pacific Ballroom.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Long Beach Fire Chief Michael DuRee said Capt. David Rosa always worked well under pressure.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Long Beach Fire Chief Michael DuRee talks about experience working with Capt. David Rosa.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia asked everyone to give firefighters a standing ovation during the memorial service for Capt. David Rosa.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Long Beach Fire Department personnel and other firefighters and police officers file out of the Pacific Ballroom at the conclusion of Capt. David Rosa’s memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

An honor guard leads the casket carrying Capt. David Rosa out of the Pacific Ballroom at the conclusion of the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Pall bearers Sam Rosa, Alec Rosa, Andy Chan, Joe Billish, Ernesto Torres, Craig Wilson, Ron Matthews and Dave Kogler carry the casket of Capt. David Rosa out of the Pacific Ballroom at the conclusion of the memorial service.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC