17 people dead after duck boat sinks at Table Rock Lake

Loved ones say one man killed in Raytown house fire embodied spirit of a soldier trying to save friend

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- FOX 4 is learning more about a Marine Corps veteran who family members say put up a good fight trying to rescue a friend from a burning home in Raytown. Sadly, both men died in the house fire on Wednesday morning near 57th and Blue Ridge Cutoff.

Relatives say John Newman embodied the spirit of a courageous soldier, and that's why they're not surprised he died in the house fire trying to rescue a friend who also died.

When she talks about her younger brother, John Newman, Kerby Newman's eyes light up.

"He was just an all-out guy that loved people. He loved his music, old school. You know back in the 70's," she described.

And John was also a die hard Kansas City Chiefs fan.

"Football was our thing. You know during the football season, watch the Kansas City Chiefs. He'd scream as loud as he could," she said.

As she glanced at a Christmas picture she took with her brother, Kerby cannot believe the unthinkable has now happened to John.

"To hear it, it just, it really hurts my heart," she said.

Just after 5 a.m., investigators say a fire engulfed John Newman's girlfriend's home in Raytown.

The relentless flames quickly damaged the front of the house and the roof where 72-year-old Andrew Frey, a dementia patient, lived with his two stepdaughters and their families.

Witnesses say John Newman tried to help get the eight people out safely. They say once the moms and kids got out----John, a 57-year-old Marine Corps veteran, then rushed back inside the burning house to try to rescue Mr. Frey, whom he cared for and called a friend.

"I believe he put everything he had within him to do the right thing," Kerby Newman said.

Despite his brave efforts, he was no match for the intense fire and thick smoke. He and his 72-year-old friend both died.

"For him to run into a blazing house like that yeah, he's my hero!" Kerby Newman said.

"I know God is smiling on him," said brother Tracy Newman.

Service for him will be Wednesday, August 2 at Golden Gate Funeral Home 2800 E. 18 Street from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.