FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Tragedy struck the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshot crew when 19 firefighters were lost while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in Yarnell, Ariz. This Friday, the Northern Arizona and Arizona football teams will both be wearing remembrance decals on their helmets. For junior defensive lineman Junior Vicente, June 30, 2013 will be a day that he will never forget.
The fire really hit home with both his father – who serves as a captain for the department – and brother currently working for the Prescott Fire Department. Just like fire departments across the nation, the Prescott Fire Department was tight knit and through his family connections, Vicente had grown to know the guys lost in the tragedy.
"It's the biggest tragedy I've ever personally been through," Vicente said. "I lost one of my really good friends and I knew almost all the guys."
With the memories of them in mind, Vicente approached NAU Director of Football Operations Matt Howdeshell a few weeks after the tragedy with an idea for the team to pay its respects to the fallen heroes.
Now, exactly two months after the tragedy on Friday the NAU football team will band together as brothers just like those lost in the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew. For Vincent, the small gesture of wearing the stickers on the helmets will go a long way in his heart.
Just like the Prescott Fire Department, the NAU football team is a brotherhood and on Friday, the small gesture of wearing the stickers on the helmets will go a long way in Vincente's heart.
"When I saw the stickers on all of my brother's helmets, it was a reminder of what these guys did for us," Vicente said. "It means a lot to me personally. I don't think the guys really understand how much this means to me and I can't thank them enough for doing this. There were no words to describe the feeling I had when I first saw the stickers on the helmets."
All proceeds from the decal will be donated to the Granite Mountain Hotshot Families at Prescott Firefighter's Charities (www.prescottffcharities.org)
Official decals can be purchased at http://www.military-graphics.com/city-law-fire.html