Photos and observations from the Granite Mountain 19 Memorial Service

(UPDATE at 7 p.m. MST, July 9, 2013)

The memorial service for the Granite Mountain 19 was conducted with dignity and professionalism today. It was very well organized and gave the firefighters the honor they deserved.

Filled auditorium

The arena a few minutes before the service started. Some of the VIPs in the front rows had not yet entered

Alumni of Granite Mountain Hotshots entering arena

Alumni of Granite Mountain Hotshots entering arena

memorial serviceoutside the arena

The crowd gathers outside the arena

 

Firefighter statue

The wildland firefigher statue that was in the Boise Airport was given to the city of Prescott just before the memorial service. It attracted a lot of attention and was photographed hundreds of times.

Firefighter's gear

Some typical firefighter gear was on display at the front of the arena.

More is below:

Tom Tidwell and Tom Harbouro

Both Tom Tidwell and Tom Harbour can be seen in this photo, wearing black coats with USFS patches. Mr. Harbour, the Director for Fire and Aviation for the USFS is in the front row, and Mr. Tidwell, Chief of the USFS, is in a seat behind him.

We talked with Tom Harbour after the service. He told us that three buses containing U.S Forest Service employees and a few Department of Interior personnel traveled up to Prescott from Phoenix today. The passengers included representatives of each Regional Forester, each Regional Fire Director, and representatives of the 80-plus USFS Hotshot crews.

He said the Granite Mountain Hotshots spent about 90 percent of their fire time on Forest Service incidents, and:

As you know, we’ve never had this happen to a Hotshot crew. We put so much time and energy and effort into training and oversight — I never thought this would happen, I never thought this would happen.

There are reports that representatives from virtually all of the 111 hotshot crews in the United States sent representatives to the memorial service. The photos here and the images from the live video showed what appear to be entire crews at the event.

VP Biden

Vice President Biden

Vice President Biden seems to have a soft spot in his heart for cops and firefighters as we reported February 20 after he made some glowing remarks about firefighters during an awards ceremony in the White House. He followed up on that today, saying “I didn’t have the privilege of knowing any of these heroes personally, but I know them. I know them because they saved the lives of my two sons when a tractor-trailer broadsided my daughter, my wife and my two sons. My wife and daughter died They saved my guys….. There’s an old saying: All men are created equal, and then a few became firefighters. Thank God for you all.”

firefighters

Fire crews

Brendan McDonough

Brendan McDonough, the surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots

Brendan McDonough, the surviving member of the crew, received a standing ovation when he was introduced. took the stage. After climbing the steps, he hugged all of the other speakers, then read the Hot Shots’ Prayer.

Bus passengers being honored, possibly family members

Bus passengers being honored, possibly transporting family members

Alumni of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were honored after the service.

Alumni of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were honored after the service.

****

(Originally published at 8:52 a.m. MST, July 9, 2013)

Below are some photos taken before the memorial service started, which honored the 19 firefighters that were killed on the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30, 2013. You can download a .pdf copy of the program for the service.

UPDATE: Quick cell phone pic. The memorial statue sent from Boise to Prescott. (sent from Bill’s cell phone at 10:44 PDT).

prescottStatueThe first five photos below were taken between two and a half and three hours before the service begins at 11 a.m. MST.

memorial service

Fire vehicle parking area

memorial service

Inside the arena, three hours before the service

memorial service

Jumbo screen two and a half hours before service

memorial service memorial service

 

 

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

9 thoughts on “Photos and observations from the Granite Mountain 19 Memorial Service

  1. A job very well done by all in Prescott today. A beautiful memorial ceremony that surely has the community on it’s way to a strengthening healing. May God forever bless Prescott.

  2. A few personal observations after having watched the entire Memorial Service today on the Web:
    first, it was professional and well done, very respectful to the members of Granite Mountain and their families and loved ones;
    It was somewhat discouraging to see the lead role that IAFF played in this event, given their long-time avoidance of temporary/seasonal wildland firefighters. Ask Casey Judd at FWFSA about his efforts to involve IAFF in bettering the cause of wildland firefighters.
    I was also taken back by the strong “Christian” emphasis from some of the Speakers; I’m a practicing Christian, but try to be mindful and respectful of others: do we know if one or more of the 19 might have been practicing atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus or some other religion? Remember in “Young Men and Fire” about the 13 that died on Mann Gulch: they put up crosses in memory of the men that died, only to find out that one of them was Jewish.
    Very pleased that the Arizona media made the entire proceeding available without commercial break, and that there was strong representation from the local, State and federal elected officials.
    The 2013 fire season has months to go: please, be safe out there!

    • I echo your sentiments, on all counts.

      May we never have a moment where we forget who is out there saving life and property.

    • I agree with all your points.
      I was almost sickened by the overtly Christian slant on things. I’m sure several crew members were Christian, but odds are not all were. I was also interested in the comment in one of them converting on the fire line several weeks ago…. Biden’s stroking McCain wasn’t all that called for either.

      As an ex federal firefighter and recent convert to the city I was also surprised by the Union heavy ceremony. I wonder had these guys been a USFS, BLM, NPS, BIA crew what would have been different?

      Either way I think it was done very well. I know each member will have their own funeral that will be individual and out of the public spotlight.

      As an ex hotshot and current firefighter I was proud to see the appreciation shown for these great humans. Politics and Religion aside there was an amazing outpouring of support. It’s a tragedy and I feel our organizations did a fantastic job honoring these men.

      They and their families will continue to be in my thoughts.

  3. I appreciate the ground-level view you are giving us, since I could not be there myself.

    Has there ever been such a firefighter memorial of this scope (excluding 9/11, perhaps?).

    When I clicked the “Daily Fire Potential Briefing” briefing today — my summer weather forecast — the intro music, usually classic rock, was “The Flowers of the Forest.” It was heart-wrenching.

  4. Excellent work in covering the service for the Granite Mountain Hotshots to-day, we are deeply saddened by the loss of the 19 hotshots and our thoughts are with the families, partners,friends and all wildland firefighters.

  5. Great job covering this tragic event Bill. I was unable to watch the streaming video of the service and the local news in Colorado gave maybe 2 minutes covering it. Does anyone know where I would be able to find the entire video online? I’ve been digging around and can’t find anything other than bits and pieces. My parents live in AZ and they told me the entire broadcast will be re-aired this weekend there. It’s a shame this is not being covered as well nationally.

  6. This ceremony will only remind us how brave and heroic our firefighters are. They’re not the type to crumble in the face of great adversity but instead embrace it as a challenge to be able to save dear lives and properties.

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