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A great loss is being felt in the firefighting community at present as a result of the loss of an entire Hotshots, Type 1 PLUS Crew on Sunday June 30, 2013. Civilian Firefighters are among the best among us. They risk their lives daily to protect our lives and our property from the powerful and terrifying, destructive forces of fire.
Many firefighters are ex-military. Indeed, several of the Granite Mountain Crew that perished on Sunday were Marines. Firefighters belong to a profession that by its very nature is a selfless service to others. They do what they do, professionally, with training and dedication. When they go up against a fire they confront an enemy of immense force and power. They attack it courageously, doing battle with it in order to save people and property that they neither know nor own. They do this selflessly and with great dedication. Those men and women who fight fires in our towns, and cities or out in the wildernesses of this country are warriors worthy of our greatest respect.
The loss of these 19 heroes in Arizona yesterday is the largest loss of firefighters in this country since the 340 who were lost in the events of 9/11. With deep sadness we mourn their loss and send our deepest sympathies and affections to their families and their communities. To be a firefighter is to be a part of a community that stretches from one's local environment across the nation and the world. I know this because my grandfather was a firefighter and my brother is a retired firefighter after over thirty years of experience as a volunteer and as a full-time paid firefighter. For him, and for all firefighters, this is a devastating loss, as it is to the entire community associated with the Granite Mountain Crew.
We have lost some real civilian heroes, several of whom were also Marine Corps veterans, in this event. May they all rest in peace and may their families know the support of their home communities and that of the Firefighting community from across the nation and the world.