Honoring the Yarnell 19 Fallen Prescott Fire Fighters
July 9, 2013 – Led by a procession
of the Prescott Fire Department Honor Guard, combined fire, emergency services
and military Honor Guard and scores of IAFF members, thousands gathered inside
and outside Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona, to remember the 19
Granite Mountain Hot Shots killed battling a fast-moving wildfire in Yarnell.
The fallen are: Robert Caldwell, Travis Carter, Eric Marsh, Jesse Steed, Travis
Turbyfill, Clayton Whitted, Andrew Ashcraft, Dustin DeFord, Christopher
MacKenzie, Grant McKee, Sean Misner, Scott Norris, Wade Parker, John Percin Jr.,
Anthony Rose, Joe Thurston, William Warneke, Kevin Woyjeck and Garret Zuppiger.
deaths mark the greatest loss of fire fighter life in a single incident since
September 11. At the memorial, speakers pledged to never forget the fallen and
encouraged others to do the same.
Presiding over the ceremony, Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona President Tim
Hill said, “Today will be a celebration of their lives and service. We will also
be honoring and offering our condolences to the families.”
Vice President Joe Biden also addressed the thousands in attendance. ‘There is
an old saying: all men are created equal, but then a few became fire fighters.
Thank God for you and your willingness to take the risk you do.”
United Yavapai Fire Fighters Association, Prescott Chapter Local 3066 President
Dan Bates knew each of the fallen personally. “I am hoping to do justice to the
20 heroes of the Granite Mountain Hotshots – including Brendan McDonough, the
survivor who has carried on the strength and heroism of his fallen brothers,” he
Bates continued, “We have grieved and asked why. But, as deep as our grief
reaches, I believe God placed these men in Prescott for a reason – to establish
a family here and to serve the citizens who call this place home.”
IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger had similar words of praise. “Most of
the time, this incredible Granite Mountain Crew was invisible to the people they
served. Unseen, but not less important,” he said. “These 19 fire fighters did
what they were trained to do, they used the equipment they had and, as every
crew does in every station in every department represented here, they
instinctively had each other’s backs.
“The hotshots were remembered not only for being an elite group of fire
fighters, but also for being husbands, fathers, sons, friends and pillars of
their communities taken too soon, each full of life – 14 of them in their 20s –
all too young,” said Schaitberger. “Each had much more left to do here on Earth.
They will be missed.”
Schaitberger promised that the larger fire fighter family will always be there
for them, and then presented the IAFF Medal of Honor to the families of the
fallen. He offered these closing words: “To Andrew, Robert, Travis, Dustin,
Christopher, Eric, Grant, Sean, Scott, Wade, John, Anthony, Jesse, Joe, Travis,
William, Clayton, Kevin and Garret, you have answered the final alarm. You have
served your nation well.”
The Medal of Honor is given to the families of IAFF members killed in the line
of duty. It features the IAFF logo and the words, “Dedication, Honor,
Sacrifice.” During the ceremony, the families of the 19 were also presented with
American and Arizona state flags and a bronzed Pulaski tool, a hand implement
used in wildland fire fighting.
In the emotional final moments of the memorial, the Granite Mountain Hotshots
Crew lone survivor, Brendan McDonough, delivered the Hot Shot’s Prayer. “I miss
my brothers,” said McDonough. “I would like to thank my family and everyone else
for supporting me.”
Other speakers offering condolences to the families and friends of the fallen
include Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Prescott Fire Department Division Chief
Darrell Willis and Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo. U.S. Secretary of Homeland
Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of
Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
and other dignitaries attended, as well as members of the IAFF Executive Board
and thousands of members from around the country.
Approximately 250 fire fighters are still working the Yarnell fire, which is now
considered 90 percent contained.