Injured Houston firefighter reunites with son who is set to become a Marine

Bill Dowling also graduated from MCRD

SAN DIEGO - A Houston fire captain nearly lost his life in that city's deadliest fire, but that did not keep him from seeing his son become a Marine.

Last May, Houston Fire Department Capt. Bill Dowling -- nicknamed "Iron Bill" -- was one of 14 people severely injured in a blaze that destroyed a motel.

He was burned so badly he lost both of his legs, and a lack of oxygen robbed his brain. Dowling spent six weeks in an induced coma and six months in the hospital.

"It's been a very emotional day for him, all of the memories came flooding back, he may not be able to speak but he understands what's going on," said Jacki Dowling, his wife.

The FirefighterAid foundation stepped up and raised the funds necessary to send the entire Dowling family to San Diego to see Forrest Dowling graduate from Marine boot camp.

"It was a hard choice for him to leave when his father was in such bad shape, but it was something he promised his father and he wanted to go and make him proud," Jacki said when recruits were dismissed.

Forrest Dowling will officially become a Marine -- like his father -- on Friday at graduation at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Bill Dowling also graduated at MCRD.

But before heading back to Texas, he will make a stop at a fundraiser for his father in Mission Beach.

Learn more about FirefighterAid here: www.sdfra.org/firefighteraid.html.

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