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Holiday season hard for parents of fallen Hotshot firefighter

This will be the second holiday season without their son Wade for Dan and Michelle Parker of Chino Valley.

Wade lost his life in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013

Michelle says her son’s death left a hole in their hearts and home and it’s even more painful during the Christmas season because he was a big kid at heart.

“It’s very difficult and we miss him every day. It’s such an empty feeling,” she said. “We get through it and know we’ll see him again someday.”

Wade’s father, Dan, is a retired Chino Valley Fire District Captain and helped recover his son’s body from the rugged canyon in Yarnell where 19 Prescott Fire Department Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters were killed when they became trapped in the canyon and overtaken by the deadliest fire in Arizona history. It was the worst loss of wildland firefighters since 1933.

Dan says family was everything to his son during this time of year.

“He loved his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. He enjoyed getting together and wrestling with the kids,” he said.

Aside from the holiday season Parker says seeing the mountains brings up his strongest feelings about the loss of his son.

“We spent a lot of time up in the mountains,” he said. “He really enjoyed that time in the mountains.”

Wade Parker was only 22 years old when he lost his life.