Prescott Valley, Ariz. • On a day filled with speeches from dignitaries including the vice president, the words of the lone survivor of a fire crew overrun by flames resonated deepest in an arena packed with firefighters from around the nation.
A stone-faced Brendan McDonough filed onto the stage at the end of the service and offered what's called "The Hot Shot's Prayer," calmly reciting the words: "For if this day on the line I should answer death's call, Lord, bless my Hotshot crew, my family, one and all." He concluded by telling the crowd: "Thank you, and I miss my brothers."
McDonough spoke at a memorial for the 19 members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots who died June 30 when a wind-fueled, out-of-control fire overran them as they tried to protect a former gold-mining town.
Vice President Joe Biden called them "men of uncommon valor" while thanking God that one member of the crew survived unhurt.
The event was marked by an outpouring of support from firefighters from across the country, who traveled to the Prescott area to honor their fallen brethren. Tuesday's memorial was the last of a handful of vigils for the men before funerals begin.