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Ventura County Perspective

Chaplain Service

April 22, 2001

Re "Answering the Call: County Fire Department's Chaplain Service Is Ready When Tragedy Strikes," Dec. 17, 2000.

This letter is a long time in coming, but deserving to be heard. This article featured Chaplain Larry Modugno of the Ventura County Fire Department, who also is a retired sheriff's deputy. Modugno and his fellow ministers assist citizens at accident scenes where tragedies have occurred. I believe his work couldn't be more difficult or more needed.

Imaging continually going to accident scenes where one or more people have passed away, and you need to console the grieving survivors. This would tear my heart out every time. Sleep wouldn't be possible.

Imaging going to an accident scene where a mother and her young son have perished, where police officers and firefighters need a shoulder to cry on or a person to comfort them. Then comes the difficult part: going to the home and informing the man who has lost his wife and son.

I was that father almost four years ago when my wife and son perished along California 23. For four hours, I waited at home with a police officer languishing with despair. Finally came a knock at the door. Several detectives came in, but all I can remember is the sight of a man with a badge that said "chaplain." As I crumpled to the floor, this same Larry Modugno assisted me.

That day and in the days that followed, we met and talked many times. I will never forget his help, and I have thought many times to call him and thank him. But when I consider the pain that he goes through with all the tragedies that he sees, I step back and live in my world of loss, knowing that to bring this to light with him would only strain his giving heart and soul.

I know that my deceased wife Jacqueline and son Garett are ever-present as angels in our world. Yet when it is said that there are no angels on Earth, I think of a man who is alive and well. An angel on Earth he is, and thank God for him.

LARRY BICKMANN

Thousand Oaks

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