Good Samaritan delivers missing IAFF Medal of Honor moments before funeral

June 17 • 2023

Family, friends, and IAFF members across the 12th District gathered to pay tribute to Irmo, SC Local 5271 member James “Jay” Muller, 25, who tragically died in the line of duty. As they joined to honor his memory, there was just one thing missing: the IAFF Medal of Honor. 

The medal was supposed to be delivered via UPS a few hours before the funeral service, but it never arrived.  

12th District Vice President Walt Dix, Irmo Local 5271 President Nick Powell, and other IAFF members soon resigned themselves to the fact that they would have to move on and perform the service without the meaningful and honored tradition of presenting the IAFF Medal of Honor to Muller’s family. 

Then came the phone call to Powell’s cell. The man on the phone, a hospital employee in the area who did not want to be identified for this story, said, “I think I have something you need.”

“I explained that I was focused on the final details of Brother Muller’s service and that’s when he told me he saw a package fall off a UPS truck. Before he could alert the driver, the truck was gone,” said Powell. “He found my name and number on the package and said he was willing to get the package to me no matter what.” 

The man who found the package was just 30 minutes away from Powell, so the two arranged to meet. 

“We are grateful that this Good Samaritan saw this medal and immediately knew the significance, which allowed us to honor Jay in the best way possible,” said Powell. “He was an outstanding fire fighter who loved every part of the job. He will certainly be missed by his firefighting family.” 

“This Good Samaritan finding the medal the way he did and making sure it was returned before the services was a true act of divine intervention. There is just no other way to explain it,” said Dix. “Jay was an exemplary fire fighter who never stopped striving to be better at what he loved. It was a privilege to be able to present his family with the IAFF Medal of Honor.”  

Muller started with the Irmo Fire Department as a high school intern and officially joined the department after he completed the fire academy at 18. 

On May 26, Muller was among dozens of fire fighters who responded to an apartment fire in the St. Andrews area. He was assisting with the interior attack when part of the structure collapsed on top of him. He died from his injuries. 

He is survived by his wife, Emma, and his son, Cole.