Committed to a life of helping others, Firefighter Cadet Steven Reid Whitfield II served as a teacher, basketball coach, and in the Texas Army National Guard before realizing his dream to join the Houston Fire Department Academy. He was scheduled to graduate from the HFD Academy Class 2015-G on June 16, 2016.
Born on March 17, 1984, in Beaumont, Texas, Steven moved to Bastrop, Texas, as a child with his family. He was a member of the Royal Rangers at church, where he learned about God and serving others. In 2002, he graduated from Bastrop High School. He was a member of the varsity basketball team. He then attended Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, where he played basketball, before transferring to and graduating from Lamar University with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science and fitness management in 2007.
As a teacher and coach, Steven served at Bastrop High School, Fayetteville High School, and Magnolia High School.
He joined the Texas National Guard in 2014, attended infantry and airborne schools, and was offered an opportunity to go on to Special Ranger training. He was promoted to sergeant at the time of his death.
Family, friends, and professional colleagues of Steven cherished his sense of humor, his abilities as a motivator, his adventurous nature, and his most unique way of seeing the world, which always included his laugh that you would never forget. Committed to physical fitness, he was also a CrossFit trainer and often challenged his family and friends to a healthier way of life.
On the morning of March 31, 2016, Class 2015-G was doing the obstacle course at the Survival House. Steven had almost completed his turn when he collapsed. His classmates quickly brought him outside and began CPR, while attempting to lower his body temperature. He was transported to Memorial Herman Medical Center. Several hours later, efforts to save him failed. His cause of death was ruled dehydration and hyperthermia.
Steven was a well-respected cadet, mentor, and motivator to many of his classmates and had only two and a half months left of his training. He was 32, older than most of his fellow cadets. Class 2015-G placed a memorial plaque at the Val Jahnke Training Facility in his honor. When the class wanted to come up with a motivating yell, in his memory they chose “RISE UP,” which signified that no matter what the circumstance, you can rise above it.