Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Members included fathers, athletes and students

When a terrible tragedy strikes, survivors try to place a face, story and life behind a name listed online or in the newspaper. When all 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in a wildfire north of Phoenix, one of the worst U.S. fire fatalities on record, friends and family came forward to remember the brave men who died in the line of duty.

Arizona Hotshot 27-year-old Garret Zuppiger loved to be funny, a trainer at a gym where many of the Hotshots worked out recalled.

Arizona Hotshot 27-year-old Garret Zuppiger loved to be funny, a trainer at a gym where many of the Hotshots worked out recalled.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/2/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Arizona Hotshots, fire crews, Arizona, wildfire, death


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A high school physical education teacher recalled 29-year-old firefighter Andrew Ashcraft as especially athletically inclined. "He had some athletic ability in him, and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active." He's survived by his wife and four children.

Twenty-three-year-old Robert Caldwell was recalled as the smart man in the bunch. "He was really smart. He had a good sense of humor," a coworker said.

His cousin, Grant McKee, also was one of the Hotshots killed Sunday. "Both of these boys were only interested in having a family life. Robert was newly married, and Grant was engaged. They just wanted the house and the dog," their aunt said.

Thirty-one-year-old Travis Carter was known as the strongest one on the crew - but also the most humble. "No one could beat him," trainer Janine Pereira said. "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."

A firefighter since he turned 18, 24-year-old Dustin DeFord started as a volunteer in tiny Ekalaka, Montana. His father, the Rev. Steve DeFord, said the outpouring of support there has been unbelievable. "We've got enough food in the house to last a year," he said.

An avid snowboarder, 30-year-old Chris MacKenzie, 30, grew up in California's San Jacinto Valley, where he was a 2001 graduate of Hemet High School and a former member of the town's fire department. He had followed his father into firefighting.

In addition, 43-year-old Eric Marsh was an avid mountain biker who grew up in Ashe County, N.C., but became hooked on firefighting while studying biology at Arizona State University. Marsh was superintendent of the Hotshot crew and the oldest of the 19 who died.

Especially troubling are the firefighters who left unfinished business among the living. Twenty-six-year old Sean Misner left behind a wife who is seven months pregnant.

"He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said. "He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy on the team, but he played with great emotion and intensity."

Twenty-eight-year-old Scott Norris was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky O'Neill Guns. "He was the kind of guy who if he dated your daughter, you'd be OK with it," a former customer recalled. "He was just a model of a young, ideal American gentleman."

At 22, Wade Parker had just joined the Hotshots team. Retired Prescott Fire Department Capt. Jeff Knotek, who had known Wade since he was "just a little guy."

"He was another guy who wanted to be a second generation firefighter," Knotek said. "Big, athletic kid who loved it, aggressive, assertive and in great shape."

In his aunt's eyes, 24-year-old John Percin Jr. was, simply, an "amazing young man." Percin was a multisport high school athlete who graduated in 2007 from West Linn High School, southeast of Portland.

Twenty-three-year-old Anthony Rose was one of the youngest victims. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King before moving on to become a Hotshot.

Jesse Steed's former colleagues remember him as a joker. "He was a character. If you look at all the old photos of him, he was doing things to make people laugh," Cooper Carr says, who worked with the 36-year-old Steed in the Hotshots from 2001 to 2003.

"He was good at impressions, and he sang songs; he was just great for morale. He'd just talk in a funny voice and have us all in stitches," Carr said. "And he was strong as an ox."

Back home in Cedar City, Utah, 32-year-old Joe Thurston, 32, used to go to an area reservoir with friends and promptly show how fearless he could be.

"He was definitely one of the daredevil types," longtime friend Scott Goodrich told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We went to Quail (Creek) Reservoir, and we'd be finding 40- to 50-foot cliffs that people would be scared to jump off. He would just show up and be front-flipping off of them." Thurston brought this bold streak to the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Known as "Turby" among crew members, 27-year-old Travis Turbyfill got a full-time position with the Hotshots when another member's girlfriend asked him to quit. A trainer said he enjoyed watching Turby with his two daughters.

Growing up in Hemet, California, 25-year-old Billy Warneke was expecting their first child in December. He was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April, buying a property in Prescott, near where his sister lived, according to newspaper reports.

Full of heart and determination, 28-year-old Clayton Whitted might not have been the biggest guy around, but he was among the hardest-working. His former Prescott High School coach said Whitted was a "wonderful kid" who always had a big smile on his face.

"He was a smart young man with a great personality, just a wonderful personality," said Beneitone. "When he walked into a room, he could really light it up."

For 21-year-old Kevin Woyjeck, 21, the fire station was a second home. His father, Capt. Joe Woyjeck, is a nearly 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

With his flaming red beard, 27-year-old Garret Zuppiger, loved to be funny, a trainer at a gym where many of the Hotshots worked out recalled. We both had a red beard and so we would always admire each other's beards," he said. "We also had a few conversations about beer."

Zuppiger's humor was evident on his blog, where he wrote about his grandmother's one-eyed Chihuahua, his "best hair day ever" and a hike with his mother on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. "Garret Zuppiger turns 25!" he wrote in a post several years ago. "Everyday is like a gift!!"

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

What is 'vape?' The Oxford Dictionary proclaims it the new word for 2014 Watch

Image of Even while media outlets, health organizations and scientific studies continue to debate the benefits and pitfalls of e-cigarettes,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What does the word "vape" mean? Before anyone jumps to negative conclusions and think that it means something untoward - rest assured: vape is both a noun and verb, according to the Oxford Dictionary. They've gone as far as to proclaim vape as their new word of ... continue reading


Meet the doll that's flipping the world upside down! Watch

Image of Lammily, is a new doll that is proportioned just like the average American 19-year old woman.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A simple art project by a graphic designer has become the most coveted toy for the 2014 Christmas season following its November 19 release. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nickolay Lamm made a doll he named Lammily, who is what Barbie would look like if she was ... continue reading


The Bloody Battle of Tarawa in 20 extraordinary photos Watch

Image of U.S. Marines advance while under fire from Japanese defensive positions.

By Robert Mullen (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Battle of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest and costliest battles to the U.S. in WWII in terms of men lost per time spent in combat. During the 76 hour battle from November 20-23, 1943, on that small Pacific Island, about 1,700 U.S. personnel were killed, and ... continue reading


What's the biggest danger to America? It's not nukes and it isn't terrorism Watch

Image of China is well known to have an extensive cyberwarfare program, and often utilizes civilian hackers as well as its own military personnel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The head of the National Security Agency revealed to a Congressional panel that China and "probably one or two other" countries have the ability to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructures through cyberwarfare. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Massive collection of Catholic artifacts leave Italy for the first time in 700 years: Their destination? The Big Apple! Watch

Image of For the first time in 700 years, artifacts of St. Francis of Assisi will be removed from Italy. They will be put on display in New York during November, December and January.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An exhibit of medieval manuscripts and papal documents that have close ties with St. Francis of Assisi will be held at the United Nations in New York from November 17 to the 28. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The exhibition is titled "Friar Francis: Traces, ... continue reading


Obama gives amnesty while bracing for next 'surge' of illegals in 2015 Watch

Image of Children in holding facilities during 2014, a year where the surge of illegal children occurred.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Obama has revealed his plans to shield about five million illegal immigrants from deportation, he has federal agencies getting ready for another mass surge of illegal immigrants during the spring of 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


Obama declares all out war on Republicans over immigration reform Watch

Image of President Obama is expected to give a speech on November 20, outlining his plans to execute immigration reform via executive action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Even after warnings from sitting and incoming House and Senate Republicans that unilateral action on immigration reform from President Barack Obama would not be tolerated, the president has gone ahead and outlined a plan to relax the rules and regulations of U.S. ... continue reading


The Marriage Meme of Francis: What Did the Pope Just Say about Marriage and Family? Watch

Image of Pope Francis presiding at a marriage Liturgy at St Peters.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis embraces the unchangeable truth about marriage as solely between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to life and formative of family as the sole Meme - using the word properly.  That is why you will not read much about the crystal ... continue reading


Another black eye for Democrats: Obamacare architect makes off with $6 million in taxpayer money Watch

Image of New videos released in November show that the architect behind the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, holds nothing but contempt for the American people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The architect of the fiasco that has been the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Jonathan Gruber, was paid about $6 million in taxpayer money between 2009 and 2014. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is about 24 times what an average, full-time American worker would ... continue reading


See the list of MOST FREE countries in the world, the results will surprise you! Watch

Image of Land of the Free no more, Americans report a significant decline in personal freedom under the Obama administration.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

America is supposed to be the land of the free, so Americans themselves might be surprised to see that the United States actually ranks fairly low on the index of personal freedom when compared to other nations. Instead of occupying the number 1 spot, the USA has ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 11:4-12
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 20:27-40
27 Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Cecilia
November 22: In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter