'He still had that smile on his face': Remembering firefighter J - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

'He still had that smile on his face': Remembering firefighter Justin Junk

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Two families are mourning the loss of Waterloo firefighter Justin Junk. One being the Junk family, but also his second family- fellow Waterloo firefighters. 

Today, family and friends said their final goodbyes to Justin. Funeral services were held at St. John's Catholic Church in Independence. 

Following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, Justin became a Waterloo firefighter. Just recently, Junk celebrated ten years on the force. But, day in and day out for the past seven years Justin had been fighting his own battle with cancer. At 34-years-old Junk lost his battle with cancer Tuesday night. 

His uncle, retired Waterloo firefighter Mike Junk says Justin, although quiet, was always smiling. Junk says what many didn't know about the ever-smiling firefighter, was that his true passion was on the farm. 

"We really enjoyed agriculture," said Junk. "And Justin was big into raising show cattle and him and I together raised some show sheep."

The two of them also shared pride in being Waterloo firefighters. Junk says Justin went to work for the past seven years all while battling cancer with a number of uncontrolled tumors. 

"They'd try to take care of one here, and another one would pop up," said Junk. "Eventually he had a large tumor in his liver that they couldn't do anymore for him."

Both his uncle, and Waterloo Fire Chief Pat Treloar says Justin never let the cancer put out his fire- his passion for helping people. 

"Of all the times he had struggles with his medical issues, you wouldn't know it," said Chief Treloar. "We knew he was hurting, and he still showed up to work. He still had that infectious smile. And I didn't hear him complain once."

For Justin, days grew longer and eventually the tumors took over. 

"We know that there's no suffering for Justin, now," said Junk.  "And the amazing thing is, is he wanted us to leave apparently. And he died twenty minutes after we left. But the amazing thing was...he had a smile on his face. It was just amazing. Even after he passed, he still had that smile on his face."

Justin's smile will continue to live on at the Waterloo Fire Department's memorial, where Justin's name will be added. This now marks the second active duty death the department has had recently, following the death of firefighter Greg Freshwater. 

Chief Treloar says Justin's last contribution to department was securing a vital rescue tube, which will be used in future grain bin rescues. The project is one Justin worked alongside his father with. 

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