Idaho firefighters gather to honor fallen Arizona hotshots

Credit: KTVB

Firefighters gathered in Boise Tuesday to watch the memorial service.

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 7:12 PM

BOISE -- Thousands of firefighters from around the country gathered Tuesday to pay their final respects to the 19 Arizona firefighters who died while battling a wildfire.

The emotional memorial service for the elite hotshot firefighters was at a hockey arena in Prescott Valley, not far from where they died on June 30th.

Twenty-one-year-old Brendan McDonough, the sole surviving member of the hotshot crew, ended the memorial by reciting the hotshot prayer.

"'For if this day on the line I should answer death's call, Lord bless my hotshot crew, my family, one and all.' Thank you and I miss my brothers," McDonough.

Also at the ceremony was a 3-foot tall statue of a wildland firefighter, which came from the Idaho-based organization Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Many in Idaho may have seen a larger version special statue of a wildland firefighter because until this weekend, it stood outside the Boise Airport. Now, it's in Arizona, where the foundation took it on Sunday.

The foundation's director spoke with KTVB over the phone just after the emotional ceremony.

"There were several times you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium, then other times you couldn't hear yourself think with the standing ovation, especially to the lone survivor," said Wildland Firefighter Foundation Director Burk Minor.

He was calling from outside the arena, where the statue stood next to one flag for each of the fallen firefighters in Prescott.

"The statue is standing here on the sidewalk next to the 19 flags next to the Toyota Center. I'm currently standing next to about 15 Greyhound buses, commuter buses, where all the hotshots are going to come back and ride back into Phoenix," said Minor.  "I'm going to have about 400 of them here in just a few minutes where I'm going to tell them what we're doing with the statue."

They are permanently giving the statue to the hotshot community to be added to a future Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew memorial.

Back in Boise at the foundation office, people gathered Tuesday to watch the memorial on television and honor the fallen.

"We have 19 helmets that represent each one of the fallen wildland firefighters, some flowers that denote our memory of each one of those guys we lost last week," said Amanda DeShazo with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Later, those 19 names of the fallen in Arizona will be added to the foundation's walls with photos of them hung throughout the office.

"If you walk through the halls here, it's been a tragic line of work to be in. We try to honor everyone of those," said DeShazo.

The 19 firefighters will also become a part of the National Wildland Firefighters Monument at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, where another large wildland firefighter statue, just like the one gifted to Arizona, still stands.

The families of the 19 firefighters will each receive a small version of the statue to keep forever, as well. That's something the Wildland Firefighter Foundation does for all of the fallen.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation plans to make another statue to replace the one at the Boise Airport.

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