Region prepares farewell for slain firefighter

 Hollywood, MD - Saint Mary’s County will be the scene of a fireman’s funeral Wednesday, April 20. While this is not unusual for a community with a strong tradition of volunteer involvement in fire, rescue and emergency services, the compelling storyline involving the firefighter—John “Skillet” Ulmschneider—has the attention of much of America.

On Friday evening, April 15, Ulmschneider, 37, was part of a crew from the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department (Prince George’s County Company 27) that was dispatched by way of a 911 call to a home in Temple Hills to check on the welfare of a resident. According to Prince George’s Fire Department (PGFD) Chief Spokesman Mark Brady, “after arriving on the scene and receiving no answer to knocks on the door, a decision was made to force entry into the house and check on the occupant. As personnel initiated forcible entry, several shots were fired from within the house striking Ulmschneider, Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician Kevin Swain and the family member who called 911.”

The wounded men were rushed to hospitals and Ulmschneider, who was transported to Southern Maryland Hospital, succumbed to his injuries a few hours later. Swain, who was flown to Baltimore Shock Trauma, remains in serious condition.

“It appears that the occupant thought his house was being broken into,” Brady stated. The following day the as-of-yet unidentified gunman was released from police custody and no charges have been filed at this time.

Ulmschneider, who lived in St. Mary’s County, was a firefighter/paramedic. Among his survivors are his wife, Dawn, and two-year-old daughter, Abigail.

The funeral mass for Ulmschneider will be held Wednesday afternoon, April 20 at St. John’s Parish in Hollywood. The service, with Father Ray Schmidt officiating, will begin at 1 p.m.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who visited St. Mary’s County Sunday, April 17 and paid his respects to the family of the slain firefighter, will return to the area Wednesday to speak at Ulmschneider’s funeral. The previous day Governor Hogan ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in Ulmshneider’s honor.

St. Mary’s County authorities has informed motorists to expect delays on all major roadways through Wednesday evening, April 20 as fire and rescue personnel from all over the Mid-Atlantic Region gather in Hollywood for Ulmscheider’s services. In addition to Route 235 (Three Notch Road), route 5 and Route 4 are likely to be congested. Motorists using the Thomas Johnson Bridge can also expect a higher-than-normal volume of traffic. The Maryland State Highway Administration will have message boards in place to guide mourners to St. John’s Parish.

The burial at Charles Memorial Gardens will be private with the Prince George’s Fire/EMS Department Honor Guard serving as pallbearers.

Following the services, a repast will be held at Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department on Three Notch Road.

“We are expecting a large turn out from fire departments in-state and out-of-state to be here on Tuesday and Wednesday to pay respects to this fallen hero,” Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department officials stated. “We ask the public to please be respectful and patient during this time as friends and family celebrates firefighter Ulmschneider's Life.”

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of mourners attended Mr. Ulmschneider's viewing. Pictures and a video of the viewing are found below.

Contact Marty Madden at

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