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'Leader of men:' Funeral service held in Miles City for longtime firefighter

Raisler's Service
Posted at 5:06 PM, Apr 20, 2024

More than 1,000 people gathered in Miles City Saturday morning for the funeral service of longtime firefighter John Raisler.

Raisler was killed on duty Tuesday, during a practice for the pack test. He was 59-years-old.

During his life, he mentored many up and coming firefighters from around the state, and many of those people were in attendance Saturday. Among them was Erick Hartse.

"Anytime you lose a friend, anytime you lose somebody like that, it's tough," Hartse said following the service. "Trying to sum up John in a few words is almost impossible."

Hartse's emotions felt by many, as agencies traveled to Miles City from all across the state.

Firefighters

"The guy was a leader of men," Hartse said. "He was probably one of the greatest mentors or teachers you could meet in your life."

Montana State Forester Shawn Thomas was also in attendance. He said the sheer volume of those there, shows just how impactful Raisler was.

"A lot of firefighters received training from him," Thomas said. "He provided that mentoring to them so they were safe to do their job of fighting wildlife fires around the state."

The funeral was held at Sacred Heart Catholic church in Miles City and was followed by a procession leading Raisler's casket to the cemetery. Once there, Raisler received his last call for service, and after a moment of silence, a helicopter flew overhead.

"I think it's really an important statement to how important John was to so many different fire departments," Thomas said of the event. "The wildland and firefighting community is just an incredible organization of people that share a passion for what they do. They share in each other's ups and on days like today, share in each other's sadness as well."

Helicopter

Raisler is survived by his wife, four children and mother Dee Raisler. All of whom were in attendance, with his wife and children giving the eulogy.

In all, it was a hero's send off for a man that touched the lives of many.

"When you look around to see all the number of people that showed up to pay their respects to the man, I think it's a great representation of how great and how powerful that guy was," Hartse said.