Thursday, July 4, 2013

19 Hotshots Gave The Last Full Measure

On the 237th Birthday of this Nation it is fitting to remember the type of Americans who risked all to create an idea that a cause if worth dying for.  Our most recent losses of this type of spirit are the nd and those are In Memory of the 19 Lost Hotshots Most of the Nation has heard or read about the 19 Hotshots who perished fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona on Sunday 30 June 2013. This was the single greatest lost in wildlands firefighters in 80 years.

The 19 men were out building a fire break with hand tools on one flank of this lighting sparked fire when strong winds from a thunderstorm suddenly turned the flames back in their direction. They apparently were overtaken by flames in a matter of seconds before they had a chance to seek shelter. The wildfire killed 18 of 20 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew. The 19th dead firefighter was from another group.

The Hotshots are elite teams of firefighters who march into remote wildfires to battling raging wildfires that threatened people and property. These are volunteers who must pass a selection and recurring training courses not only to be accepted but to remain on the teams.  The Hotshots are simply some of the best this Country has to offer.

As a Army Range Rider I had to deal with wildfires in the BLM grazing units. The largest fire I
worked was about 6,000 acres destroying not only cactus, yucca but fences, waterlines and the grass
that ranchers counted on and threatened cattle as well.  I had another Army Range Rider and two
BLM Cowboys working to control this fire, as well as a two man Fire Brush Truck from the nearest
Fire Department laying down a wet line when we determined we would not be able to control the
spread of the fire.  I requested help on US Forest Service radio and requested a Hotshot Crew on
scene. A couple hours later, through the smoke from the fire I saw the line of yellow jacket wearing
Hotshots approaching our fire from the opposite end, and just like a choregraphed dance they split
into two units and went directly to containing the fire.  They had walked in the last several miles
and with nothing but what they carried, then they put this growing fire out and were ready to go to
the next one.   It was impressive to say the least.

The Yarnell fire in Arizona which cost these Hotshots their lives has burned through 8,400 acres and
none of it is contained as of Tuesday 2 July. There are 18 engines, eight support water tenders and a
total of 500 personnel on the scene. An estimated 200 homes and other structures burned in Yarnell.
A heavy toll of property and an unbearable toll of lives especially for the families who lost fathers,
husbands, brothers and sons. 

The fallen have been confirmed: Eric Marsh, Anthony Rose, Kevin Woyjeck, Chris MacKenzie, Scott
Norris, Clayton Whitted, Travis Turbyfill, Jesse Steed, Robert Caldwell, Dustin Deford, Sean
Misner, Scott Misner, Garret Zuppiger, Travis Carter, Wade Parker, Joe Thurston, John Percin,
William Warneke and Grant McKee.

Please keep their families in your prayers.

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