Prescott, Ariz. » Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s. Here are the stories of some of those who died:
Andrew Ashcraft » An athletic, go-getter
Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught many of the Hotshots, and remembered 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft as a fitness-oriented student.
"He had some athletic ability in him and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active."
Beneitone said athletic prowess was a must for the Hotshots. "That’s what it takes. You gotta be very physically fit, and you gotta like it, gotta like the hard work."
Robert Caldwell » The smart one
Friends characterized Robert Caldwell, 23, as the smart man in the bunch.
"He was really smart, he had a good sense of humor," said Chase Madrid, worked as a Hotshot for two years, but sat this year out.
"He was one of the smart guys in the crew who could get the weather, figure out the mathematics. It was just natural for him," Madrid said.
It was Caldwell’s intelligence and know-how that got him appointed as a squad boss.
His cousin, Grant McKee, was also a Hotshots member and also was killed on Sunday.
"Robert was a gentle giant — he was man of few words," said his aunt, Laurie McKee.
He had just gotten married in November, and had a five year old step-son.
"Both of these boys were only interested in having a family life. Robert was newly married, and Grant was engaged. They just wanted the house and the dog," she said.
Mary Hoffmann was grandmother to both boys.
"To have two grandson’s gone, it’s devastation," she said.
Travis Carter » Strong and humble
At Captain Crossfit, a gym near the firehouse where the Hotshots were stationed, Travis Carter was known as the strongest one out of the crew — but also the most humble.Next Page >
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