|Dads, Sons, Husbands, Hotshots: Ariz. Firefighters Remembered|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27)||Jul 3, 2013, 10:07 AM|
The 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire were young men in the prime of their lives -- sons, fathers, brothers, friends, husbands and dads-to-be.
The fire killed 18 of 20 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew. The 19th dead firefighter was from another group. The ages of the brave men ranged from 21 to 43, with 14 of them in their 20s.
We remember each one individually and as a courageous unit.
Fighting fires ran in the family for Woyjeck, whose father is a nearly 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
"Even when he was a child, he used to go on ride-alongs and hang out with the firefighters," L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
Los Angeles firefighter Keith Mora said, "He's a great kid. I say kid, but he was a young man. He was working very hard."
Parker, one of the youngest members of the Hotshot team, had only recently joined the elite crew of firefighters. Firefighting ran in his blood. His father works for the nearby Chino Valley Fire Department.
"He was another guy who wanted to be a second generation firefighter," retired Prescott Fire Department Capt. Jeff Knotek, who had known Parker since he was a child, told ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV.
Knotek described Parker as a "big, athletic kid" who loved his job and was "aggressive, assertive and in great shape."
"It's just a shame to see this happen," Knotek said.
Parker was engaged to be married this fall.
Ashcraft left behind a wife and four children.
"Our oldest is struggling a lot," Ashcraft's wife, Juliann, said. "I want them to be like their dad. We have three boys and one girl. And he loved them and now it's my job for them to know how much he loved them.
"We celebrated their dad and the hero that he is and will always be and he's an angel for us now," she said.
"He's the best person I've ever met and he gave all for his job and it doesn't compare to what he gave his family. And they were all like that. They were heroes," Juliann said.
Warneke was 6 when he first dressed up as a fireman. A home video shows the young boy dressed as a fireman and climbing a tree.
He later joined the Marines and then the Hotshots. He joined the Hotshots in April, Warneke's grandfather Jack told ABC News. His wife is expecting a baby.
MacKenzie was a Hotshot veteran whose mother never worried about his safety.
"Chris was very experienced and he had taken a lot of classes and he had done it for such a long time," Laurie Goralski said.
The California native loved to snowboard and followed his father into firefighting.
Misner left behind a wife who is seven months pregnant.
His former football coach Ken Gruendyke recalled Misner as a team player who didn't let his slim figure prevent him from playing several positions and tackling opponents.
"He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said, according to KNXV-TV. "He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy on the team, but he played with great emotion and intensity."
The former Marine and Hotshot veteran spent the past two years as captain of the Granite City Hotshots.
Former Hotshot colleague Cooper Carr recalled Steed as a joker.
"A job like the Hotshots is hard, hard work and you don't stay in it if you don't love it," Carr said, according to KNXV-TV.
Police officer Cassidy Steed said his brother "always put his life on the line for people who he knew he would never meet."
His aunt called him "probably the strongest and bravest young man I have ever met in my life."
Percin loved baseball and had an unforgettable laugh, according to KNXV-TV.
He was a multisport high school athlete who grew up in Portland, Ore.
Rose, one of the crew's youngest members, grew up in Wisconsin and had previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King, Ariz., before becoming a Hotshot.
Retired Crown King firefighter Greg Flores told ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV that Rose "just blossomed in the fire department."
"He did so well and helped so much in Crown King. We were all so very proud of him," Rose said. "He was the kind of guy that his smile lit up the whole room and everyone would just rally around him. He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart."
McKee's family remembers him as a generous, loving young man.
"I had four grandchildren, but Grant was the sweetest, most giving nature of any of my grandkids," his grandmother Mary Hoffman told KNXV-TV. "We used to think he was a little angel."
McKee's mother, Laurie McKee, said her son was training to be an emergency medical technician and was only planning to work with the Hotshots for the summer.
"Grant was one of the most likable people you could ever meet," McKee said. "Grant was friendly, he was outgoing. Everybody loved Grant."
Carter was known among his peers for both his strength and his humility, according to KNXV-TV.
Many of the Hotshots trained at Captain Crossfit, a gym near the firehouse where they were stationed.
"No one could beat him," trainer Janine Pereira told KNXV-TV. "But the thing about him was he would never brag about it. He would just kill everyone and then go and start helping someone else finish."
He was notorious for making up brutal workouts for the crew and famous for once holding a plank [pose] for 45 minutes, Pereira said.
The avid mountain biker grew up in Ashe County, N.C., and became hooked on firefighting while he was studying biology at Arizona State University, according to KNXV-TV.
He was superintendent of the Hotshot crew and the oldest of the 19 who died.
Marsh left behind a wife. His father told a North Carolina newspaper that Marsh was "a great son" who was "compassionate and caring about his crew."
Zuppiger loved to be funny, according to trainer Tony Burris, who worked at the gym where many of the Hotshots worked out, according to KNXV-TV.
"We both had a red beard and so we would always admire each other's beards," Burris said. "We also had a few conversations about beer."
His humor was evident on a blog where he wrote about everything from hiking with his mother to his grandmother's one-eyed Chihuahua, KNXV-TV reported.
When he turned 25, he wrote on the blog, "Everyday is like a gift!"
Norris was well-known around town because of his part-time job at a gun store, which a local likened to a barber shop where people hang around and talk.
"I never heard a dirty word out of the guy. He was the kind of guy who if he dated your daughter, you'd be OK with it," Prescott local William O'Hara told KNXV-TV. "He was just a model of a young, ideal American gentleman."
Friends knew the Utah native as someone who was daring and determined.
"He had all the qualities that a firefighter would need to possess," Thurston's friend E.J. Overson told the Salt Lake Tribune. "He was service-oriented, very caring and willing to do some things that many others would say, 'I don't want to get involved.'"
The husband and father of two looked like a tough guy, but had a soft-spot for his two young daughters, friends said.
"Because he's this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish blonde curly hair and they just love their dad," trainer Tony Burris told KNXV-TV. Turbyfill's wife is mourning his loss.
"Travis was a strong man, a great firefighter and a natural leader," his wife Stephanie said in a statement to KNXV-TV. "But more than anything, he was a man of God, my loving husband, and an absolutely wonderful daddy to our two sweet little girls. He is tremendously missed by all of us."
In January 2012, Deford tweeted to friends that he had passed the physical fitness test to become a Hotshot and asked for prayers as he headed for the interview process.
He moved to Arizona from Montana after he was hired as a Hotshot.
"He listened very well. He was very respectful," Captain Crossfit trainer Tony Burris told KNXV-TV. "He kind of had a dry sense of humor."
Friends say this Hotshot was known for his brains.
"He was really smart, he had a good sense of humor," former Hotshot Chase Madrid told KNXV-TV. "He was one of the smart guys in the crew who could get the weather, figure out the mathematics. It was just natural for him."
His intelligence got him a spot as a squad boss for the crew.
He wasn't the biggest Hotshot, but he more than made up for it with hard work and heart, friends said.
"He was a smart young man with a great personality, just a wonderful personality," Whitted's former Prescott High School coach Lou Beneitone told KNXV-TV. "When he walked into a room, he could really light it up."
Beneitone said that Whitted loved being a firefighter and was well-respected among his colleagues. Beneitone told KNXV-TV he saw Whitted a few months ago and the two shook hands, hugged and talked about the upcoming fire season.
"I told him to be careful," Beneitone said.