Lone Survivor Salutes Firefighters at Service

Thousands gather in Arizona

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 9, 2013 4:32 PM CDT

(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.

This photo combination made with family photos shows the 19 firefighters.
This photo combination made with family photos shows the 19 firefighters.   (Uncredited)
Brendan McDonough is greeted by Vice President Joe Biden during the memorial service.
Brendan McDonough is greeted by Vice President Joe Biden during the memorial service.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
Brendan McDonough, center,  the sole surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, takes his seat after saying the Hotshots Prayer.
Brendan McDonough, center, the sole surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, takes his seat after saying the "Hotshots Prayer."   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
The Gila Interagency Hotshots Crew from New Mexico lines up outside the service.
The Gila Interagency Hotshots Crew from New Mexico lines up outside the service.   (Julie Jacobson)
Firefighters listen during the Our Fallen Brother memorial service.
Firefighters listen during the "Our Fallen Brother" memorial service.   (David Wallace)
A flag is presented to the family of fallen firefighter Jesse Steed.
A flag is presented to the family of fallen firefighter Jesse Steed.   (MICHAEL CHOW)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the service.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the service.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
Thousands attend the memorial service.
Thousands attend the memorial service.   (Les Stukenberg)
Firefighters from around the country walk in formation at the service.
Firefighters from around the country walk in formation at the service.   (Julie Jacobson)
From left, Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Sen. Jeff Flake.
From left, Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Sen. Jeff Flake.   (MICHAEL CHOW)
A bell is rung for each fallen firefighter.
A bell is rung for each fallen firefighter.   (MICHAEL CHOW)
A firefighter from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., prepares to enter the service.
A firefighter from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., prepares to enter the service.   (Julie Jacobson)
Thousands attend the service in Prescott, Ariz.
Thousands attend the service in Prescott, Ariz.   (David Kadlubowski)
Former Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters walk past photos of the 19 fallen firefighters.
Former Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters walk past photos of the 19 fallen firefighters.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks during the service.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks during the service.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
A bell is rung for each fallen firefighter.
A bell is rung for each fallen firefighter.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
Firefighters from Sacramento, Calif., stand during the national anthem.
Firefighters from Sacramento, Calif., stand during the national anthem.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski, Pool)
A flag is presented to the family of fallen firefighter Jesse Steed.
A flag is presented to the family of fallen firefighter Jesse Steed.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Michael Chow, Pool)
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