Remsen man honored on Iowa Firefighter’s Memorial Wall

Thursday, June 23, 2022
Marietta Alesch shared this picture of a certificate, flag and picture of her first husband, Robert L. Arens, that she received, honoring Bob for his ultimate sacrifice. The certificate states, “This Iowa State Flag was flown over the Iowa State Capitol Friday, April 8th, 2022 in honor of Robert Arens who faithfully served his community as a firefighter giving the ultimate sacrifice."
(Photo contributed)

On June 12, 2022, the 27th Annual Memorial Service for the Iowa Firefighters Memorial took place in Coralville. During this service, a Remsen man, Robert L. Arens, who had died in the line of duty back in 1974, was honored for his ultimate sacrifice.

The mission of the Iowa Firefighters Memorial is, “to forever honor, celebrate and inspire the spirit, courage and service of Iowa firefighters-past, present and future. The memorial park is an inspiration to Iowans of all ages to continue the tradition in Iowa of service to each other and to our communities. Iowa is the first state to have a firefighter memorial and visitor center echoing Iowa's national leadership in fire service training and safety education. Iowa has 20,000 firefighters organized in 871 fire departments. Every year these men and women serve 3 million Iowans in more than 40,000 emergency calls. Every Iowan will be touched at some point in life through fire rescue, emergency response, fire prevention education, or hazardous materials cleanup. This memorial park exemplifies Iowa-its pride, family values, community service, and commitment to quality. The site includes the memorial sculpture and wall, eternal flame and a visitor center with restroom facilities. Ample parking and peaceful landscaping complement the tranquil view.”

On the Iowa Firefighter’s Memorial website (www.iowafirememorial.org), a biography of Robert L. Arens was listed with the following information:

“Robert L. Arens, Remsen Fire Department, Active 1969 to June 22, 1974. Date of Death: June 22, 1974. In memory of Bob Arens - a dedicated fireman who gave his life in the line of duty on June 22, 1974.

Two Remsen, Iowa, residents, Robert L. Arens and an 18-year-old girl, died early on Saturday morning, June 22, 1974, of electrical shock northeast of Remsen during a tornadic windstorm. The young woman's car had gone out of control or was blown off the road and struck a 7200 volt IPS powerline, which downed the wires.

The rescue unit arrived within minutes manned by Mr. Arens and three other firemen. Bob was the first to go down into the ditch to give aid. Almost immediately he came in contact with the wires, which flipped him through the air landing him on his back with instantaneous death.

Bob was survived by his wife, Marietta; two sons, Roman and Keith; and a daughter, Lisa.”

Bob’s daughter, Lisa, explained how this opportunity came about to honor her father, “On a stormy night 48 years ago, on June 22, 1974, our Mom lost her husband, Robert L. Arens, my brothers and I lost our Dad. He was 33.

We thank God for our Remsen community family and friends who helped us through our loss.

About a year ago, my brothers, Roman and Keith Arens, and myself ran into Randy Ortmann, a fellow volunteer fireman. He approached us about a memorial in Coralville that honored fallen firemen. He thought Dad’s name should be on that wall. After talking to Mom, we all agreed that it needed to happen.

On June 12, 2022, our Dad deservingly got his name engraved on the Wall that read “For Those Who Have Given The Ultimate Sacrifice”. Dad was one of three, this year, that had their name added to that Wall. Hundreds more are on the “Fallen Firefighters” Wall. One of them being our grandpa, Roman L. Groff. His name was added to the Wall for the fireman who had served for 10 years or more.

We were blessed to have Dad’s only living sibling, Uncle Tom Arens and his wife, Marlene, and two of their daughters attend, along with four daughters of another brother, Uncle Marty Arens. Aunt Fae Groff-Moritz and her son, Christopher, also attended.

It was an absolute honor to be there and watch them present Mom with a framed certificate and an American flag that was flown in Dad’s honor.

I know I speak for me and my family in saying we are proud of our firefighters. May God bless each and everyone of you.

Randy Ortmann, my family and I thank you for introducing us to this great event to honor Robert L. Arens.”