Granite Mountain Hotshots

Eric Shane Marsh

Clayton Thomas Whitted

Travis Carter

Christopher Alan Mackenzie

Joe B. Thurston

Scott Norris

William Howard Warneke

John Joseph Percin Jr.

Sean Michael Misner

Jesse James Steed

Robert E. Caldwell

Travis Turbyfill

Andrew Sterling Ashcraft

Wade Scott Parker

Garret Zuppiger

Dustin J. DeFord

Kevin Woyjeck

Grant Mckee

Esse
Quam videri

To Be Rather Than To Seem To Be

Eric Shane Marsh

A loving husband and son, Eric Shane Marsh was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. He graduated with honors from Ashe Central High and from Appalachian State with a degree as a biologist/naturalist. Eric excelled at several jobs, but the one he loved most was wildland firefighting.

Eric was a rock and ice climber and proposed to his wife on an ice-climbing trip to Ouray, Colorado. He was a cowboy with a love for his horse, “Shorty,” loved fishing and was an avid cyclist.

In 2003 Eric joined the Prescott Fire Department in the Wildland Division and helped create the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew, the first wildland crew of its kind. Eric took his job very seriously, turning boys into men. He helped create the Arizona Wildfire Academy and taught basic firefighting, squad boss and leadership.

Eric was kind and funny. He worked hard to help everyone willing to help themselves.

Superintendent of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew
DIVS, ICT4, FIRB, FALB, EMT 

Jesse James Steed

Jesse James Steed was born in Cottonwood, Arizona on September 28, 1976 to Claudia Federwisch. Jesse was the beloved husband of Desiree Steed and an amazing father to Caden and Cambria. His children and wife were the light of his life; he was a truly dedicated family man. 

After Jesse graduated from high school he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1996 until 2000. He joined the Forest Service in 2001; often saying it was the closest thing to military camaraderie that he could find in the civilian world. He worked on the Prescott Hotshot, helitack and engine crews until he became a part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2009. He proudly served as the captain to a crew he referred to as a brotherhood. 

Jesse had a way of making everyone around him feel like they were the most special person in his life. He would always greet and leave you with a rib crushing hug and never said goodbye to anyone without an “I love you.”

Clayton Thomas Whitted

Clayton Thomas Whitted was born on June 27, 1985 and there are so many things that made him special. He was kind and caring, a hard worker and a man of great faith. One thing specifically that set Clayton apart from others was his love for people. Clayton was an amazing friend to have. He would do anything for anybody, and loved people unconditionally. Clayton realized the importance of investing his time and energy into people and relationships instead of things.

Clayton joined the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2008 and took pride in the work he did. He was quickly promoted to Saw Boss and then to Squad Boss, leading and teaching his firefighter “brothers” by example.

He met his wife Kristi in 2009 and the two were married in 2011. 

Clayton was a light shining in the darkness. He left the world a better place and was truly a blessing to all he came in contact with.

Robert E. Caldwell

Robert E. Caldwell was born on August 7th, 1989. He was always looking out for the well being of others and searching for ways to make the world a better place. He was known among his friends and family for his playful spirit, huge heart and his willingness to help out when ever he was needed. He discovered his love for the outdoors at a young age and decided to become a Hotshot upon graduating high school. He loved being a wild land fire fighter because he could help protect people and land, while at the same time be immersed in the outdoors and experience the wildness of nature. Robert was and would have continued to be a career Hotshot. Many young men and women join the wild land fire :fighting force as a stepping-stone to become a structural fire fighter but Robert was born for the job. As a born leader, his natural team spirit, compassion for others and athleticism combined with his love for nature made him the ideal Hotshot.

Robert’s life was split between the dedication he had for his career as a Hotshot and the love he shared with his family. Robert was 23. He was a loving stepfather, husband, son, brother and friend.

 

Travis Carter

Travis Carter was born on August 7, 1981, in Prescott, Arizona, to Tripp Carter and Glenna Eckel. In high school Travis was an all-state, all-conference football player. Travis married Krista Smalley in 2007, the couple has two children, Brayden and Brielle.

His firefighting career began in 2001, where he worked for the Prescott National Forest as a hotshot and worked on many fires including the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. In 2009 he was chosen to be among the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots crew through the city of Prescott. Their job was, in the off-season, to trim brush and limbs to protect the areas in and around Prescott. They are known as Prescott’s Finest and were professionals with a great deal of training.

Travis has said that one of his favorite places on earth is the fishing pond at the ranch. His family is grateful to the Lord for Travis’ life and for the time they had with him. He will be greatly missed, but know he is finally home with the Lord, whom he loved.

Travis Turbyfill

Travis Turbyfill was born on March 25, 1986, and grew up in beautiful Prescott, Arizona. As a child he lived in Groom Creek, where his love for the outdoors began.

He graduated from Prescott High School in 2004 and fulfilled a lifelong dream when he began his career as a wildland firefighter in 2005. Travis served in the United States Marine Corps from 2007 to 2010. He then resumed his career as a :firefighter in 2011 with the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Travis and Stephanie were married August 1, 2009.

“We shared a tremendous pride for our two little girls, Brooklyn Elizabeth and Brynley Elizabeth. I loved our life together.”

“Not a day went by that we didn’t know how much he loved us, cared for us and appreciated us,” said Stephanie. “He thought he was the luckiest man in the world, but I know we were the lucky ones.”

He was a strong man, a natural leader and a great firefighter. He loved what he did and did it well.

 

 

Christopher Alan mackenzie

Christopher Alan MacKenzie was born on September 12, 1982, in Fontana, California.

Before working for the Prescott Fire Department, Chris worked for the Bureau of Land Management on engine and helicopter crews and for the U.S. Forest Service on engine and hotshot crews.In 2010, Chris was invited by one of his former captains to apply to the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In January 2013, Chris started his third season as a lead crewmember with the Granite Mountain Hotshots out of the Prescott Fire Department.

On behalf of Chris’s extended family, we all say that Chris never let the negativity of this world get to him. He loved and lived life with a full heart. As his life and career reveal, he embraced the responsibilities of a man, all while maintaining the fun loving heart of a child. Chris’s attitude was infectious; you wanted to be around him, and he would make you laugh. Chris absolutely loved his family, and they loved him.

 

Andrew Sterling Ashcraft

Andrew Sterling Ashcraft, 29, was born with the essence of a hotshot; extraordinary determination, an adventurous spirit, and unwavering work ethic. After growing up together and graduating from Prescott High School, his wife Juliann, was drawn to Andrew’s pure heart and genuinely kind spirit. Their four children, Ryder, Shiloh, Tate, and Choice treasure the example of their larger-than-life Daddy. He taught his sons to be gentleman, his daughter of her divine worth, and his wife how to love unconditionally. Just by being himself, he made his parents proud and others happy. He taught by example with his motto, “Be Better” living every moment to the fullest in the service of others. As the life of the party, Andrew always wore a contagiously bright smile below his beloved mustache, earning him the nickname “Stache-Craft” among the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew. He also earned “Rookie of the Year” in 2011 and “Lead Sawyer” in 2013. Andrew will forever be reverenced, revered, and remembered.

Joe B. Thurston

Joe was a devoted husband, father, and son. He had a smile that would light up a room and a laugh that would warm your heart. Joe always did everything he could to help others. 

An avid outdoorsman, he loved skateboarding, snowboarding, cliff jumping, hiking, and anything that could get the blood pumping. He was a talented drummer and member of several bands. Joe could always be found at the park with the kids or in the kitchen making up a masterpiece of a meal. 

Joe earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology in 2006 and his EMT in 2011. Joe began his wildland fire career in 2008 working for Blacktimber Fire, as well as The Groom Creek Fire Department. He was thrilled and so proud when he became a Granite Mountain Hotshot in 2012. 

A very smart and extremely loving man, he will be so missed. He is survived by his wife, Marsena and his children, Ethan and Collin.

Wade Scott Parker

A native of Chino Valley, Arizona, Wade Scott Parker was born on October 30, 1990. After graduating High School in 2009, Wade attended College on a Baseball Scholarship. He decided to return to Arizona and follow his dream of being a firefighter like his father. Wade joined the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew in 2012. He was awarded Rookie of the Year his first season. Wade was honored to be a part of the crew. He loved his job and the amazing men he worked with. An avid athlete, he won numerous awards in baseball and football. Wade loved archery, hunting, the outdoors, any extreme sport and music. He loved his family and couldn’t wait to start his own, planning to be married in October 2013. Wade touched so many lives through his faith in Jesus Christ. Wade lived a life of honesty, integrity and adventure. He and the other members of the “Yarnell 19” loved and honored each other, staying together until the end. They will be greatly missed.

 

Anthony M. Rose

At the young age of 23, Anthony was compassionate for anything that had to do with fire. He became a crewmember for the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2012, after working for four years with the Crown King Fire Department. He was a diligent, hard-working member of his crew and was frequently depended on for the hardest of tasks. 

Anthony could brighten up a room with his smile and sense of humor, and he was always well liked by others. He was loyal to his brothers through thick and thin. 

Anthony will never be forgotten. He lives on every day through his daughter’s bright blue eyes and an unforgettable smile. He leaves behind his fiancée, Tiffany and his daughter, Willow.

Garret Zuppiger

Garret was born December 14, 1985, in Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from Greenway High School in Phoenix in 2003 and from the University of Arizona with a degree from Eller College of Management in 2008. 

He was extremely proud and excited to be accepted as a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots for the 2012 season, having no prior experience or background in firefighting. During his rookie season as a hotshot, he attended wildfire training school and was awarded the fire boots for being first in his class. 

Garret was the most generous, giving, kind and hardworking man. He used his everlasting abundance of energy towards always helping others, regardless of his help having been requested or not. 

Garret had a sense of humor like no other. He was a free spirit and loved a great adventure. He lived his life by his favorite saying: “Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die tomorrow.”

Scott Norris

Born October 12, 1984 in Prescott, into the family of Jim, Karen and Joanna Norris. Scott grew to be a hard-working and intelligent young man of faith who loved adventure and enjoyed making others laugh. He graduated Bradshaw Mountain High School in 2003 and attended Yavapai College where he acquired his firefighter certification. Scott enthusiastically pursued the outdoors – backpacking, hunting and snowboarding. He and his Dad hiked remote trails in the Grand Canyon and in 2010 Scott was trip leader of a 230-mile, 20-day private raft trip down the Colorado River with parents and friends. He also explored the U.S., Central America, Thailand and Cambodia.

Scott’s wild land fire career started with Payson Hotshots in 2009; he began serving with Granite Mountain in 2013. Fellow hotshot, Evan Whetten, describes Scott – “one of the toughest, most unbreakable guys with the biggest, sweetest heart……A true original, Scott was never afraid to be himself and he did not follow trends. He was his own man. He would do anything for a friend.” 

Dustin J. DeFord

“He was a man of God first, and a firefighter second, but he did both with all his strength.” – Ryan DeFord

Dustin was raised in a family of firefighters, with a love for the rugged outdoors of which there was plenty in Big Sky country. He was equally at home in an icy Montana elk camp or in the summer’s grueling heat with a chain saw in hand on the Carter County Fire Dept. fuels crew.  

Dustin decisively put his trust in Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior as a young boy. It became his life’s passion to live for Jesus who died and rose again on his behalf. Dustin desired that all would know his Savior and wasn’t afraid to share ‘Jesus’.  

He graduated from Bible College in 2010,
and interned in northern Canada in spring of 2011. 

Landing a position on the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew was a dream come true. But his greatest joy was sharing the gospel of Christ with his co-workers.

 

William Howard Warneke

William Howard Warneke, “Billy,” as he was called by family and friends, was an avid outdoorsman. He was born in Hemet, California, on August 13, 1987, to Kathie Holland and Harry Warneke.

His courageous spirit led him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps when he was 17 and to serve a combat tour in Iraq. After honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps, he attended Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, where he earned his EMT-B. He then graduated from the college’s fire academy, took additional courses at the Arizona Wildfire Academy, and earned a degree in fire science.

Billy possessed honor, high morals and unwavering loyalty. He always strived to be the best in everything that he did, which led him to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC). He believed that Granite Mountain IHC was a hotshot crew that deserved his admiration and respect. He made a commitment to himself that he would earn a coveted position in their ranks, which he fulfilled.

Billy is survived by his wife, Roxanne, and his daughter, Billie Grace.

 

 

 

 

Kevin Woyjeck

In April 2013 Kevin Woyjeck joined the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew in Prescott Arizona. It was a great honor to be part of this team. Kevin’s goal was to follow in his fathers footsteps and one day join the LA County Fire Department. He was in the process of building his resume and gaining experience.

He began his quest at a young age as a fire explorer, graduated high school and became an EMT while still in high school. He studied at the college level and was fulfilling his dream of fighting wildfires when he and his 18 crew members lost their lives in Yarnell. Kevin was 21 years old and is survived by his parents, a brother, a sister, and countless other family members and friends. Kevin was often described as a happy soul who was all accepting of everyone.

 

 

John Joseph Percin Jr. Prescott Fire Department

John Percin loved his family and his English lab Champ. John’s honesty and loyalty guided him every step of the way and will continue to touch many forever. John’s smile, kindness, and warm embrace were unmatched. All of those who knew John felt the exact same way.

John is forever grateful for the love and support of the Prescott, Arizona community where he bettered himself and proudly called home. He was forever touched by the love of his friends at the Chapter Five Recovery Center, and he was equally touched by the love of his brothers in the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

John’s passion for life was deep. He approached every day with optimism and excitement. John was truly at peace when he was out enjoying the beauty of life. While he shined in everything he did, his true passions were hiking, basketball, and family. John made us all so very proud. He and his brothers will never be forgotten.

Honest, Honorable, Remarkably Brave, Our Hero.

Grant Mckee

Grant Quinn McKee was born on May 18th, 1992 in Newport Beach, CA to Grant & Marcia McKee. Grant was a spectacular athletic who excelled in all sports, but took a special interest in boxing, basketball, football, & wrestling, always a furious competitor as well as a team player. Grant moved to Prescott, AZ to attend college and found the love of his life Leah Fine. Soon after, he joined the Prescott hotshot crew to fight fires next to his cousin Robert Caldwell, with aspirations of one day becoming an EMT. Grant was only 21 years old when tragedy struck, but the last 3 years of his life he spent helping children & adults who suffered from mental & physical disabilities. He possessed a nature of no fear, always positive, coupled with love & kindness for all who knew him. Grant was one of God’s best ideas, the bright light from him will forever shine upon us.

Sean Michael Misner

Sean Michael Misner was born April 8, 1987, in Goleta, California. April 8, 2013, was his first day with the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Sean spoke highly of all his crewmembers and he trusted every single one of them to have his back. Sean’s smile could light up a room and he became instant friends with people he met.

Sean was 26 years old when he and his crew were killed fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013. On September 15, 2012 he married his love and best friend Amanda. They moved to Prescott, Arizona where he began the training process for the Granite Mountain Hotshots. On his birthday, April 8, 2013, Sean and his wife Amanda found out they were expecting a baby boy.

Anyone you speak to would say Sean was a quiet, humble and polite person. His friends say you could count on Sean to be there and to listen when needed. Quiet, yet when something needed to be said, he had the ability to say the right thing or give comfort.

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Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew
Learning and Tribute Center

Prescott Gateway Mall
3250 Gateway Boulevard
Prescott, Arizona 86303
(Dillard’s end of the mall)

Friday:
10 am to 4 pm
Saturday:
10 am to 4 pm
Sunday:
11 am to 4 pm

info@gmihc19.org
1700 Iron Springs Road
Prescott, AZ 86305
 

Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot History

Written by Darrell Willis

You cannot speak of the Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot Crew (GMIHS) without first discussing the foundation that led to their creation. In 1990, the first inter agency operating and evacuation plan was developed, this was with the cooperation of Prescott Fire Department, Prescott National Forest, State Land Department and Yavapai County The Prescott Area Wildland Urban Interface Commission was established. Between 1991 and 2000 yearly inter agency urban interface and evacuation drills began with intense public education on defensible space. The Prescott Fire Department and the Prescott National Forest worked on addressing the wildland/urban interface and began prescribed burns and mechanical fuels mitigation with in the community. 

In 2001, Fire Chief Darrell Willis asked the Prescott City Council for permission to hire an outside consultant to conduct a wildland risk analysis. The City Council agreed and Hunt Research Inc. was hired to to conduct a comprehensive wildland risk analysis and
develop a community-wide vegetation management plan for the City. The analysis found that Prescott was “living on the edge”, and was one of nine communities in the Southwestern United States at risk of a catastrophic wildfire. Recommendations from this report included the establishment of a wildland division and a wildland fire crew that
could respond to wildfires and assist the community with defensible space.

Chief Willis had a vision; he wanted to see Prescott prepared for any wildland fire problem. Chief Willis applied for and was awarded a state fire assistant grant to begin defensible space treatment on private property. He was also given the daunting task of mitigating the problem with in the Prescott area. 

Chief Willis hired Duane Steinbrink to manage the newly formed fuels management crew. That year the fuels management crew built defensible space around 392 homes. This crew was fully grant funded with no cost to the city of Prescott. This continued into 2002 with 738 more homes being protected by fuels mitigation/defensible space. Also that year the Indian Fire erupted outside the city limits of Prescott. The disaster was averted due to the fuels treatment, sound tactics, and inter agency cooperation. 

The city of Prescott was the first city in the state of Arizona to adopt a wildland/urban interface code. Prescott Fire Department established a hazardous tree removal program. The ponderosa pines were being decimated by a beetle. Todd Rhines was hired as the Fire Department Fuels Management Supervisor and Eric Marsh was hired as a Fuels Crew Member. During the year of 2003 they removed 10,000 beetle killed ponderosa pines. At a fee of $55 per tree, paid for by the homeowners, these fees covered the cost of the program. The Fuels Management Crew continued to create defensible space, treating an additional 545 homes. 

Based on this foundation, in 2004, Chief Willis, with full support of the city manager and city council established Crew 7. Crew 7 was a 20 person Type II Initial Attack hand crew that created defensible space and was completely funded by grants, plus they were available to fight wildland fires.

 The leadership of Crew 7 included Todd Rhines, Tim McElwee, Marty Cole, and Eric Marsh. When Crew 7 was sent on wildfire assignments 100% of the cost was reimbursed from the hosting agency. Crew 7 was on fire assignment for a total of 52 days. Crew 7 fought 11 wildfires in the Prescott basin area alone. The fuels program assisted with 267 homes, treated 159 homes and treating 113 acres.

At this time a software program called “Red Zone” was used in assessing the risk of properties in any wildfire events around the city proper. Chief Willis, Duane Stein Brink and Eric Marsh wanted the city of Prescott to have the best wildland fire service. They wanted Crew 7 to be an example of how cities with in the wildland/urban interface should be. They were on the cutting edge of the future.

Between the years of 2005 and 2008 – 619 homes were treated, 385 hazardous trees felled (383 tons), 593 acres treated, 675 plans reviewed, 2586 additional homes assessed, 626 building plans reviewed and 10,875 tons of material taken into the city’s transfer station (the transfer station collected fees per weight of material taken in and then selling the material to various other companies). On top of all of this work Crew 7 went out for a total of 129 days on fire assignments. 

Yet, one of the most important events happened in 2007. Crew 7 received approval, from the Southwest Area Coordinating Group, becoming the first hand crew in the nation hosted by a municipality to be listed as an Inter-agency Hotshot Crew (IHC) in training; thus becoming the Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshots (GMIHS). Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshots was funded to provide the Prescott National Forest with a fuels mitigation project on Mount Francis. Their first assignments totaled 74 days. 

Chief Willis was promoted to the city of Prescott’s Emergency Services Director over the Fire Department, Airport and Regional Communications Center. Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots became fully certified as an interagency hotshot crew in 2008. Joining the ranks of the most elite wildland firefighters in the country and accomplishing something that no other city department had been able to do.

The following year they were on fire assignments for 95 days, did 1101 assessments, 89 homes were treated and 278 acres were treated. Chief Stein Brink retired, in 2009, as the Wildland Division Chief. Chief Willis was asked to take over the Wildland Division. The Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshots were committed to 73 days of fire assignments, completing 356 assessments, 56 homes were treated, 148 additional
homes were assessed for treatment, 137 chip jobs were completed, 101 hazardous trees felled, and 222 acres were treated with an additional 26 acres of open space. Their responsibilities were growing along with their abilities. 

In 2010 the Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot Crew obtained two 100% grants that completely funded the Wildland Division. Their work of assessments, treatments of home, treatment of acreage, along with chip jobs, trees felled, and inspections were doubling in number, then add an additional 115 days of fire assignments.

The National Fire Protection Association determined that the Prescott Fire Departments’ Wildland Division Fuels Management Program was to be considered the “Gold Standard” in the nation. The year was 2012, Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot crew continued all of their work within the city, with the added responsibilities of eliminating several hazardous trees throughout the city. They became part of the city’s snow removal response team along with maintaining 150 acres of open space around Goldwater Lake. No other jurisdiction in the country had been able to accomplish as many objectives or show as much fuel mitigation as the Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot crew. The Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshots had been protecting the city
with over $3.1 billion in assessed value, over 18,000 homes and 24,000 residents.

Entering their sixth season the 2013 Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshots’ became instructors at the Arizona Incident and Management Academy. They continued their very aggressive fuels treatment programs in the residential areas and continuing to complete an additional 120 acres of fuel treatment around Goldwater Lake. The Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot crew successfully went on wildfire responses to Perkinsville, Prescott Valley, Green Gate, Hart, Thompson Ridge, Doce (where again they protected the city Prescott), West Spruce and Mount Josh fires. Granite Mountain Inter-agency Hotshot crew was then called to the Yarnell Hill fire. This elite wildland fire crew lost 19 of its members at 1647 hours on June 30, 2013. Their commitment to excellence, their hard working attitude and their love for family and community is missed. These men, this crew was on the cutting edge and will always remain so.

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