HFD captain fights to recover after heroic rescue attempt

By Bill Balleza - Anchor

HOUSTON - Houston Fire Captain Bill Dowling, also known as "Iron Bill," is fighting to recover his strength following a heroic rescue attempt last May that nearly took his life.

Dowling was injured on May 31, 2013 -- the deadliest day in Houston Fire Department history. Believing people were trapped in a fire that engulfed the Southwest Inn along the Southwest Freeway, Captain Dowling led a rescue attempt during which four fellow firefighters died and 13 others were injured.

Captain Dowling lost both his legs and suffered brain damage.

But today, Iron Bill is getting stronger, working on a pumper apparatus his men at Station 68 built for his physical therapy routine.

His wife, Jacki says her husband is working hard.

"He's so determined," she told Local 2 anchor Bill Balleza.

Bill and Jacki were married right after he graduated from Marine boot camp.

Their first child, Forrest, was born while they were still in the Marines.

Now, 18-year-old Forrest is in his second week of Marine boot camp and he just wrote his first letter home.

Forrest has wanted to follow his dad, since he was a little boy, wearing replicas of the Marine battle fatigues his dad wore on a combat tour in Somalia.

Although he can no longer return the traditional greeting of fellow Marines, Iron Bill is working harder than he did in boot camp.

"They're kind of doing the same thing. Forrest is working his buns off for his goal and Bill's working his off too. So it's going to be amazing, I can't wait," Jacki Dowling said.

Traveling to California to see their son graduate boot camp this Spring will be expensive. The firefighter community is raising money for the trip.

If you would like to help, you can make a donation to Operation Oorah or send money to the address below:

Laura Archibald with Firefighter Support Network
Attn: Captain Archibald
600 Jefferson 6th floor
Houston, TX 77002

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