The names of the 19 firefighters killed while battling a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona, have all been released. They are the names of fathers, brothers, sons, uncles. And with them is another name. Brendan McDonough.
He was the last man of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew from Prescott, Arizona, the group of firefighters who trained together to fight wildfires, the group who died together ... save for one. McDonough survived the worst tragedy to befall the firefighting industry since 9/11 not because he wasn't as dedicated as his firefight brothers but because of luck.
The 21-year-old was reportedly moving the crew's truck when the fire trapped the other firefighters.
But his battle is hardly over. Units like the Granite Mountain crew are typically close-knit. They have to be to go into conditions as dangerous as those of a wildfire. They have to know that they have each other's backs, that they can depend on one another.
McDonough has to learn to live with the loss of men he cared about and deal with the emotional aftermath of surviving a tragedy like the one that claimed these heroes over the weekend. He has to decide if he wants to get back out there and once again do the job he loves.
He will need time. And help.
Help from a country that is honoring fallen heroes right now. We can't forget him. He was there too. He was putting his life on the line too. He needs us.
In fact, a lot of help could be used in Prescott, where the families have to bury men who ranged in ages from just 21 to 43. Fourteen of the dead were in their 20s, just starting their lives. Some leave behind children, others pregnant spouses.
They died fighting FOR something. Now we can do something for them. Here are some easy ways to help:
1. The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association and the Prescott Fire Fighters Charities have established a 501(c)3 relief fund called the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account. Donations can be made via PayPal or mailed to UPFFA, 61 E. Columbus, Phoenix AZ 85012.
2. The 100 Club of Arizona has set up a memorial fund in Memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Funds collected will be used for "assisting survivors, covering costs for flights of family members of the victims, helping the injured, and purchasing replacement equipment for the Prescott Fire Department." Donations can be made via PayPal or mailed to 100 Club of Arizona, 5033 North 19th Avenue, Suite 123, Phoenix, AZ 85015.
3. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a non-profit that helps families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and assists injured firefighters and their families, is currently raising money specifically for the Prescott firefighters. Donations are accepted on their website.
Have you been moved to help these heroes' families?
Image via USDAGov/Flickr