Thousands of firefighters from around the nation are paying their final respects at a memorial for 19 members of an elite Arizona Hotshot crew killed in a wildfire June 30.
Vice President Joe Biden told a packed arena in Prescott Valley, Ariz., that, “All men are created equal but then a few became firefighters. Thank God for you all,” he said.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also addressed the crowd. “How wonderful it is to know that Arizona was home to 19 men like those we honor today,” she said.
The sole survivor of the 20-man crew is slated to recite what’s called “The Hot Shot’s Prayer.” Brendan McDonough was serving as a lookout and wasn’t in the immediate burn zone when the other firefighters died.
“I miss my brothers,” said a tearful McDonough before leaving the stage.
The 19 men from the Granite Mountain Hotshots were overrun by a wind-driven wildfire in Yarnell about 30 miles from the crew’s home base in Prescott. Their deaths were the largest loss of firefighters in the nation since Sept. 11, 2001.