Lone Survivor Salutes Firefighters at Service
Thousands gather in Arizona
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2013 4:32 PM CDT
This photo combination made with family photos shows the 19 firefighters.   (Uncredited)

(Newser) – The lone survivor of the Arizona wildfire that killed 19 of his fellow firefighters helped bid them farewell today at a memorial in Prescott, Ariz. A stone-faced Brendan McDonough, 21, filed onto the stage at the end of the service and offered what's called "The Hotshot's Prayer" after being hugged by other firefighters, Gov. Jan Brewer, and Joe Biden. The prayer ends: "For if this day on the line ... I should answer death's call ... Lord, bless my hotshot crew ... My family, one and all."

Thousands attended the service, including firefighters from all over the country. "These men were some of the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious, physically fit men in the world," Biden said. "An elite unit in every sense of that phrase." The 19 men—members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots—were overcome by smoke and fire June 30 while battling a blaze on a mountain above the tiny community of Yarnell, about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.