Calif. city pays tribute to fallen heroes

About 150 people gathered to remember 3 Vallejo firefighters and 3 Vallejo police officers who died in the line of duty


By Lanz Chistian Banes
The Vallejo Times Herald

VALLEJO, Calif. — Robbin Mackbee was just 27 years old when he perished three decades ago battling a brush fire in the Country Club Crest.

"He was a good kid. He never got a chance to marry — he died so young," Mackbee's sister, Barbara Lang, said Saturday.

Lang and a dozen other of Mackbee's family members were just a few of the 150 or so people who gathered to remember the three Vallejo firefighters and three Vallejo police officers who died in the line of duty.

Most of the audience was left standing as seats quickly filled up for the brief ceremony.

The commemoration of thr memorial outside City Hall comes less than a week after the 10-year anniversary of the slaying of Officer Jeff Azuar.

Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini reminisced about his and Azuar's shared fondness for model trains.

"I miss Jeff coming in and talking about his electric trains," Nichelini said, adding that he hopes the trains are still out running on their tracks somewhere in the world.

Both Nichelini and Fire Chief Russ Sherman applauded their six fallen comrades as heroes because they regularly went into dangerous situations to protect the people of Vallejo — and paid the ultimate price.

"The big challenge is to not add more people on the list," Sherman said, motioning to the stone block with the names of the dead men on plaques.

The memorial was capped with sculptures of a police officer's and firefighter's hat.

Lang and sister Maye Robinson hopes the world will never forget their brother, who was crushed to death when a tanker truck full of water fell on him as he battled the 20—acre brush fire on July 28, 1980.

Every year, their grandchildren — kids Mackbee himself never knew — sing at senior citizens centers and hand out scarves and hats.

"We do it every year as a memorial to Robbin," Robinson said.

Vallejo's fallen heroes
Fire Capt. Vincent M. Murphy, died May 28, 1939
Fire Lt. Charles M. Hayes, died Sept. 3, 1961
Officer William Easson, died April 7, 1966
Officer Calvin Thacker, died April 7, 1966
Fire Engineer Robbin Mackbee, died July 28, 1980
Officer Jeff Azuar, died April 12, 2000

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