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Phoenix auto shop makes mobile memorial for fallen Hotshot

LISTEN: Mark Remillard - Body shop makes memorial for fallen hotshot

PHOENIX — The family of one of the fallen 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots will soon be receiving their own personal memorial and in time for the Prescott Day Parade on July 5.

Of all the monuments and memorial that have been constructed in honor of the 19 hotshots, only one has been in the making for 57 years.

“It’s beautiful, I love how they taken every detail that they can and made it to reflect in remembrance of the 19 guys,” said Cassidy Steed, brother of fallen hotshot Jesse Steed.

Phillip Beck is the owner of Street Road by Auto Art in north Phoenix, and he and his men have been working for most of the last year to turn Jesse Steed’s 1957 GMC 4 x 4 into a mobile memorial.

The truck has been in the Steed family for years, and Cassidy Steed said Jesse got it from their grandmother.

At the time of Jesse Steed’s death, he had been working to restore the truck.

“(Jesse) had it in running condition, he had the bed all done but there was still some body work to be done,” said Cassidy Steed. “Still a lot of the interior and exterior he wanted to polish up.”

After shopping around where the family would take the truck, Cassidy and the other family decided to leave the job up to Beck.

Beck said he and his men took to the design with an eye for detail.

“The interior is made out of Nomex, which is the fabric that their uniforms were made out of, and the same color,” Beck said. “The taillights, we customized 19 lights into the tail of the truck where normally there’s only one, (and) we’ve got the 19 firefighter’s names embroidered into the interior.”

Other unique customized work includes the Granite Mountain emblem on the doors and instrument panels, as well all the 19 firefighters names imprinted on both sides of the truck.

Beck said the entire vehicle was rebuilt from the ground up, and while his men worked to keep the truck as stock-appearing as possible, he said the entire truck has been modernized.

“Everything is modernized, power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, brand new engine” he said. “The Los Angeles County Firefighters Museum donated a brand new engine to us.”

That engine was delivered to the shop by Joe Woyjeck, father of fellow fallen hotshot Kevin Woyjeck, Beck said.
The eye for detail and custom work has not come cheap though, and Beck estimates his men have put about $50,000 worth of labor into the truck. Beck said the auto industry support has also been strong to help cut costs.
Donations can be made to the project at any Wells Fargo Bank by asking for the Jesse Steed Memorial Fund or by donating online.

Beck said the whole project is about honoring the Jesse, the men and their families, which is why they have been working to complete the truck under a tight deadline.
“The family’s only request through this entire process was (that) the truck be available for the Prescott Day Parade,” Beck said.

The truck is expected to be delivered to the family July 3, where it will be escorted the entire way from Phoenix to Prescott, Ariz. by fire crews, Beck said.

Then on the July 5 parade, the truck will be the 19th vehicle.

Eventually after the fanfare of delivery and the parade, the truck will continue to be used for special events and memorials.

Jesse Steed’s younger brother Levi Federwisch said most importantly though, the truck will be given to Jesse’s 5-year-old son, Caden.

“Caden is five years old now, so eventually he’s going to learn to respect the truck,” he said. “He’s a little kid now but absolutely that will be his truck.”

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