Fallen Firefighter's Last Text Is a Heartbreaking Reminder of the Sacrifice Heroes & Their Families Make

AshcraftI have a confession: I've been kind of avoiding reading about those 19 incredible, brave Arizona firefighters who lost their lives battling a wildfire this weekend. Sometimes I don't feel capable of taking in any more sad news or tragedy. But when I read that before firefighter Andrew Ashcraft died along with his 18 fellow heroes, Ashcraft texted a photo to his wife and four children, I couldn't help myself.

The photo he sent shows Ashcraft's fellow members of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots crew setting up camp for a lunch break. You can see smoke from the Yarnell Hill fire in the background; the very fire that took their lives not much later.

But even more haunting to me is the everyday-ness of Ashcraft's texts with his wife and children.

"I'd love to be in a swimming pool right now," Ashcraft texted after his wife Juliann sent him a photo of their four little children at the town pool. And when his 4-year-old daughter told her daddy it had started raining, and she wished he could see it, he replied: "We could really use a little rain down here."

Those were Ashcraft's final words to his family.

It's absolutely heartbreaking. But more than just making me cry, it reminds me of what an incredible sacrifice not only people like Ashcraft are will to make, but that their loved ones are also willing to make. Those who take jobs like fighting fires, or fighting crime, or fighting wars, are so brave and admirable, but so are their spouses. I can't imagine what it's like to know that your beloved is facing death and danger even once -- let alone on a regular basis.

Ashcraft's widow, who is now a single mother to four fatherless children, said that her husband quit his electrical engineering job three years ago because Ashcraft wanted to do something more meaningful with his life. That must have been a big decision for their family, but it's one that Juliann was willing to make because she not only believed in her husband, she believed in the importance of what he was willing to die for. Photos of the Ashcrafts before this tragedy show what a sweet, loving family they were.  

When Juliann stopped getting replies to her texts that fateful day, she must have known that her worst nightmare was coming true -- a feeling that so many others have to face in the name of keeping the world that much safer for the rest of us.

Thank you, Juliann Ashcraft. You -- and all the mourning family members of the lost Granite Mountain Hotshots -- are just as much a hero to me as your brave, beautiful husband.

Do you have a loved one who puts his or her life on the line? How do you cope?


Image via Juliann Ashcraft

death, fire, military, natural disasters


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miche... micheledo

My heart breaks for all those families.

e32368 e32368

So sad for their families. Anyone else notice that the smoke is actually shaped like a heart?


momof... momof4272

This is sad, my husband is a firefighter and I worry constantly. I dont know what I would do if something happened to him. My prayers are with all the families and the 20th hotshot left to go on without his team. May god be with them during this time.

Nancy Chrivia

two of my sons and one son-in law are volunteer firemen... two of my sons are also soldiers... I always pray they sray safe, but we know sometimes tradgedy happens. My heart goes out to the families... First West Texas, now this, God must be needing angles real bad right now.

Mary Denny

My husband and my two sons are firefighters, and my son is in the Army as well. I totally turn it off. When they go on calls I say a prayer and move on. When it seems like he has been gone "too long" I pray again.

nonmember avatar J

I can barely stand to look at the photos in the attached. Such brave, YOUNG men taken too soon. May God be with their families.

Scmji Scmji

I have a familywho deals with this kind of thing everyday as my husband walks out the door his job as a police officer.we trust in his training we pray for safety and we know he's doing what he loves

Marilyn Wengert

Very tragic and I feel so bad for the families. It really makes you so thankful for the precious things in life!

mlg1989 mlg1989

RIP to all of the brave men who died that day.

acrog... acrogodess

May all those men rest in peace. My heart goes out to their families.

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