July 4, 2013

A closer look at the 19 Arizona firefighters who died

The Associated Press

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Brendan McDonough
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Firefighter Brendan McDonough embraces a mourner at a vigil in Prescott, Ariz., on Tuesday night. McDonough is the sole survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew that perished in a raging wildfire Sunday. He was serving as a lookout and relaying key information to his colleagues when the fire trapped and killed them, officials said. McDonough, 21, was in his third season with the Hotshots.

The Associated Press

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GRANT MCKEE

Grant McKee, 21, loved to give things away.

"Even as a child, I'd ask him where things were, and he'd say, 'Oh, such and such liked it.' And sometimes it really cost a lot! But he'd say, 'Oh, he liked it so much,'" said his grandmother, Mary Hoffmann.

"So on his birthday, I started to say, 'I hope you're going to keep this!'" she said.

McKee's mother said Grant was training to be an emergency medical technician and only intended to work with the Hotshots for the summer.

SEAN MISNER

Sean Misner, 26, leaves behind a wife who is seven months pregnant, said Mark Swanitz, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, where Misner graduated in 2005.

Misner played varsity football and also participated in the school's sports medicine program. He was slim for a high school football player, but that didn't stop him from tackling his opponents, recalled retired football coach Ken Gruendyke. "He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said.

SCOTT NORRIS

Scott Norris, 28, was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky O'Neill Guns.

"Here in Arizona the gun shops are a lot like barbershops. Sometimes you don't go in there to buy anything at all, you just go to talk," resident William O'Hara said. "I never heard a dirty word out of the guy. He was the kind of guy who if he dated your daughter, you'd be OK with it. He was just a model of a young, ideal American gentleman."

WADE PARKER

At 22, Wade Parker had just joined the Hotshots team. His father works for the nearby Chino Valley Fire Department, said retired Prescott Fire Department Capt. Jeff Knotek, who had known Wade since he was "just a little guy."

The younger Parker had been very excited about being part of the Hotshot crew, Knotek said.

"He was another guy who wanted to be a second-generation firefighter," Knotek said. "Big, athletic kid who loved it, aggressive, assertive and in great shape."

JOHN PERCIN JR.

He loved baseball and had an unforgettable laugh. In his aunt's eyes, John Percin Jr. was, simply, an "amazing young man."

"He was probably the strongest and bravest young man I have ever met in my life," Donna Percin Pederson said from her home in Portland, Ore.

Percin, 24, was a multi-sport high school athlete who graduated in 2007 from West Linn High School, southeast of Portland.

ANTHONY ROSE

Anthony Rose, 23, was one of the youngest victims. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King before moving on to become a Hotshot.

Retired Crown King firefighter Greg Flores said Rose "just blossomed in the fire department."

"He did so well and helped so much in Crown King," he said. "We were all so very proud of him."

Flores said the town was planning a fundraiser for Rose's family. "He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart," Flores said.

JESSE STEED

Jesse Steed's former colleagues remember him as a joker.

"He was a character. If you look at all the old photos of him, he was doing things to make people laugh," said Cooper Carr, who worked with Steed in the Hotshots from 2001 to 2003.

"He was just great for morale. He'd just talk in a funny voice and have us all in stitches," Carr said.

Carr remembers that Steed once spent the better part of an hour positioning a water bottle just right for a photo so that it would look like Yosemite Falls was cascading into it.

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