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Founders & Board

The Texas LODD Task Force is guided by a working Board of Directors and strategic advisors. We rely on this group of people with a diverse background to help guide us through making the most of our mission. They are resources and advocates so that the Texas LODD Task Force can make the largest impact for everyone who’s ever been and ever will be touched by a line of duty death or injury.

Wendy C. Norris


Wendy is the founder of Firefighter Ministries and a co-founder of the Texas LODD Task Force.  She serves as the president and chief executive officer. She also serves as the Presiding Officer on the Governor’s Advisory Panel for the Star of Firefighter Texas Awards.  She is a guest instructor for the Texas A&M TEEX fire schools, and a peer advisor for the SOAR program of the Phoenix Burn Society, and a Master Chaplain/Instructor for the Federation of Fire Chaplains.  

Billy Wusterhausen

Vice President/Response Commander

Billy has been a member of the Task Force since 2003.  He serves as a Response Commander and the Vice President. Billy has been involved in the fire service since 1991, where he began as a volunteer and was hired in 1995 with the Round Rock Fire Department. Billy promoted through the ranks and currently serves as an assistant fire chief. Billy has worked in every division of the fire department and is also a licensed paramedic and a commissioned police officer. Billy obtain his associates and bachelor’s degrees in fire science and a master’s in public administration.

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John Norris

Founding Member/Chief of Staff

John is a founding member and serves as the Chief of Staff.  He provides support services and logistics to the entire organization from administrative to response.  He is a Captain with the Houston Fire Department and a Safety Officer for the Forest Bend Fire Department.  He is a paramedic and holds certifications as a Master Level Firefighter with both the TCFP and the SFFMA.

Dr. John Babler

Board Member/Response Commander

John Babler serves as Professor of Counseling and the Director of the Walsh Counseling Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He has been active in the fire service for over 20 years both as a firefighter and chaplain. He is a chaplain and police officer for the Forest Hill Police Department.  He is a retired fire chief and currently serves as a Board Member and Response Director of the Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force and as Vice President of the Texas Corps of Fire Chaplains. He has authored several journal articles in a variety of fields and has recently published Biblical Crisis Counseling, Not If, but When as well as Counseling by the Book, Revised and Expanded Edition. 

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Dennis Gifford

Founding Member

Dennis Gifford was instrumental in shifting the mission of the organization to caring for the fallen.  He helped put together the initial framework of the organization and was a successful advocate for us.  He is a liaison for the organization and continues to provide guidance in handling line of duty deaths with volunteer agencies.  He is a retired fire chief of Lumberton Fire.

Lucille Maes

EMS Advisor

Lucille is the EMS Director of the Angleton Area Emergency Medical Corps where she spent 6+ years as a volunteer, 4 of those years as a volunteer officer.  She is a current member of the Governor’s EMS and Trauma Advisory Council - EMS Committee.  She is an East Texas Gulf Coast Regional Trauma Advisory Council (RAC”R”) member for 17 years, current Board of Directors member and have served on the Board for 14 years & Chairman of the Board for 4 years.

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Response Team

Response Commanders

Response Commanders oversee the entire line of duty death response and ensures that the operations run smoothly, manages resources, directs team members, and provides support to the officers of the effected agency.  Our Response Commanders are experienced at working with law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies because they work in these fields.

John Babler

Law Enforcement Response Director

Ret. Chief, Edgecliff Fire Dept.

Chaplain, Police Officer Forest Hill Police Dept.

Pat Ekiss

Chief, Taylor Fire Department

Billy Wusterhausen

Fire Response Commander

Asst. Chief, Round Rock Fire Department

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Mark McNeal

Assistant Chief, Lewisville Fire Dept.

Mark McAdams

Retired Chief, Jerald Fire Dept.

Chris Young

Deputy Chief, Crowley Fire Dept.

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Ed Tydings

EMS Response Commander

Division Commander, Williamson County EMS

Lealand Raiford

Assistant Chief, Burnet Fire Department

Jeff Ballew

Fire Chief, Edgecliff Fire Dept.

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State Honor Guard Commander

State Honor Guard Commanders support the Regional Honor Guard Commanders and local honor guard teams.  They assist with funeral and memorial planning and oversee State honor guard resources. 

Matt Whisenant

Firefighter, HG Commander, Taylor Fire Dept.

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Regional Honor Guard Commanders

Regional Honor Guard Commanders oversees local honor guard resources and assists local honor guard teams with fatality responses.

Phillip Thomas, Amarillo FD

Mark Zamora, McAllen FD

James Wathen, Ret. Houston FD

Stuart Burris, Coppell FD/Dallas Sheriff 
Jeff Barker, Lufkin FD
David Dilbeck, Odessa FD
Craig Krienke, Georgetown FD
Justin Hill, San Antonio FD

Senior Staff

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