Vietnam veteran killed in fire after saving son - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Vietnam veteran killed in fire after saving son

Hulbert Bonner (Source: Family) Hulbert Bonner (Source: Family)
EARLE, AR (WMC) -

A pastor, patriarch, and Vietnam veteran died a hero after rescuing his son from a house fire in Earle, Arkansas, on Friday.

69-year-old Hulbert Bonner was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who was also a pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church.

“The bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Bonner’s brother, Pastor James Wilson, said he received the call around 3 a.m. Friday morning.

“A lot of times when you get a phone call that early in the morning you know something is wrong,” Wilson said.

He and his wife rushed to the house at Second Street and Tulip, but the house was engulfed in flames when they arrived.

“The firemen were there trying to put it out and trying to cut a hole in the wall, but the fire was too intense,” Wilson added.

People around the community said Bonner was a hero until the end. Witnesses said he helped pull his disabled son and at least one other person from the home before it went up in flames.

Bonner's body was found in a back bedroom. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Wilson described Bonner as a kind man who would do anything to help others.

“You could go to him at any time of the day and night and he would come to your rescue,” Wilson said. “He would help all over this town and any other place. He would give his all and wouldn't charge a dime.”

Bonner was the oldest of 13 brothers and sisters. James Wilson called him his mentor.

“All of us brothers looked up to him and we more like depended on him for a lot of things because we didn't have a daddy in our home,” Wilson said.

His church and community remembered the man they looked up to Sunday at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. It would have been his pastor’s anniversary.

Wilson said the church will go on with the celebration to honor a man whose service and leadership will not be forgotten.

“He['s going to] truly be missed in this city,” Wilson said.

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