U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was one of the many dignitaries who paid tribute to the elite Hotshot crew, calling them men of “uncommon valour” and saying, “firefighting is not what they did, it was who they were.”
Perhaps the most emotional moment came when Brendan McDonough, the 20th crew member who survived as he had been keeping watch, read the “Hotshot Prayer” at the service.
“For if this day on the line I should answer death’s call, Lord bless my hotshot crew my family on and all,” he read. “Thank you and I miss my brothers.”
“That was pretty tough on everybody,” says Caughill. “He got a standing ovation and everybody’s obviously very supportive of this poor young guy.”
Support was the entire reason for attending the memorial yesterday, especially for the firefighters who came from as far as Australia to attend. Everyone who made their way to Tim’s Toyota Centre in Prescott came to show their families and the community that their firefighting family is behind them
“It’s a pretty proud day to be a firefighter when you see that kind of support,” says Caughill. “19 firefighters is the biggest loss of fallen firefighters that we’ve had since 9/11, so it’s just to support our fellow firefighters, especially when it’s 19 like that.”
Caughill believes that support was well received, and that the community was in awe of how many people came out.
“That’s the amazing thing about the firefighting brotherhood and family: it’s like a second family. They’re there for every one of us and vice versa. Without a doubt the Americans would come and support us as well.”
The crew was described as tight-knit, and one of the best in the country, called to fight the toughest fires around the United States. They were killed June 30th in the big Yarnell Hill fire, that was sparked by lightning on June 28th. Its flames reportedly spread too quickly, and trapped the fire crew.