Marines to the End

Story and Photos by Marine Corps Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson

On June 30, 2013, 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters gave their lives protecting the community of Yarnell, Ariz., from a wildfire. Among those killed were three Marine veterans: Cpl. Jesse Steed, Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill and Cpl. Billy Warneke.

Photo: A Marine Corps flag flies above the Granite Mountain Hotshots memorial across from Prescott Station No. 7 in Prescott, Arizona, July 11, 2013. Jesse Steed, Travis Turbyfill and Bill Warneke, all Marine veterans, were among 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots killed while fighting a wildfire outside the community of Yarnell, Ariz. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson/Released)

A Marine Corps flag flies above the Granite Mountain Hotshots memorial across from Prescott Station No. 7 in Prescott, Arizona, July 11, 2013. Jesse Steed, Travis Turbyfill and Bill Warneke, all Marine veterans, were among 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots killed while fighting a wildfire outside the community of Yarnell, Ariz.

The Turbyfill Family

Nearly half the Hotshots were dedicated family men, including Travis, who wanted to become a structural firefighter so he could spend more time with his family.

Photo: A photo of Travis Turbyfill and his family hangs amidst other memorabilia honoring the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed while fighting a wildfire outside the community of Yarnell, Ariz., June 30, 2013.

A photo of Travis Turbyfill and his family hangs amidst other memorabilia honoring the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who were killed while fighting a wildfire outside the community of Yarnell, Ariz., June 30, 2013.

Hotshot Camaraderie

Fellow members of the Hotshots carry Travis’ casket into Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz, July 10. The camaraderie between the Hotshot crew members was similar to what Travis and the other Marine veterans had experienced while in the Corps.

Photo: Members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots wheel the casket bearing Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill into Heights Church for his funeral in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013. The Hotshots are an elite group of firefighters sent to fight the most dangerous wildfires. The nature of the job and the camaraderie of the crew drew many Marine veterans to the team.

Members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots wheel the casket bearing Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill into Heights Church for his funeral in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013. The Hotshots are an elite group of firefighters sent to fight the most dangerous wildfires. The nature of the job and the camaraderie of the crew drew many Marine veterans to the team.

Once a Marine

In addition to the discipline and respect they learned in the Corps, Travis and Jesse brought a high level of fitness to the Hotshot team. They introduced their new brothers to doing push-ups in accordance with the number on each card drawn from a deck, often beginning after 16 hours on the job.

Photo: Marine Corps League members salute the casket bearing Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill as it is wheeled into Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Marine Corps League members salute the casket bearing Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill as it is wheeled into Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Hands-on Dad

Travis leaves behind two daughters, Brooklyn and Brynley. He was a hands-on dad who changed diapers, painted fingernails and kept a copy of Goodnight, Moon in his truck to read to the girls over the phone while he was away fighting fires.

Photo: Brooklyn, three-year-old daughter of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, is comforted by her mom Stephanie as her dad’s casket is hoisted into a fire engine for transportation to the gravesite following his funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Brooklyn, three-year-old daughter of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, is comforted by her mom Stephanie as her dad’s casket is hoisted into a fire engine for transportation to the gravesite following his funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Honoring His Memory

Travis’ funeral was a solemn affair. The church was packed with family members, friends, fellow Hotshots and other members from the community. Although Travis’ daughters are too young to fully comprehend the magnititude of the event, Stephanie will be there to help them remember how much their father loved them.

Photo: Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, cradles her daughter Brynley during Travis’ funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, cradles her daughter Brynley during Travis’ funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Photo: Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, huges her daughters Brooklyn and Brynley during Travis’ funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, huges her daughters Brooklyn and Brynley during Travis’ funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Carry the Weight

Stephanie is now in a similar position to many of the other Hotshot widows. She must pick up the pieces and care for her two girls, but now she will do it alone.

Photo: Stephanie walks past the casket of her husband Travis Turbyfill carrying their daughters Brooklyn and Brynley during the funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Stephanie walks past the casket of her husband Travis Turbyfill carrying their daughters Brooklyn and Brynley during the funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Laid to Rest

Travis and Jesse were laid to rest in their hometown of Prescott, Ariz., at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery July 10 and 11.

Photo: Family members, friends and representatives from the fire, police department and Marine Corps attend the burial for Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Family members, friends and representatives from the fire, police department and Marine Corps attend the burial for Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Military Honors

Both Travis and Jesse received military honors at their funerals in acknowledgement of their service in the Marine Corps and selfless sacrifices as firefighters.

Photo: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Biel, training chief assigned to I&I Phoenix staff, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, lifts the flag off Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill’s casket during his burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, July 10, 2013.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Biel, training chief assigned to I&I Phoenix staff, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, lifts the flag off Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill’s casket during his burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, July 10, 2013.

Photo: Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, is handed the flag that was draped over her husband’s casket by 1st Sgt. David Baker, I&I Phoenix 1st sergeant, during the burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, July 10, 2013. “It means a great deal to honor a fellow Marine and give closure to his family,” Baker said. “Those who give the ultimate sacrifice, regardless of the form of service, are the reason we can do what we do.”

Stephanie Turbyfill, wife of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, is handed the flag that was draped over her husband’s casket by 1st Sgt. David Baker, I&I Phoenix 1st sergeant, during the burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona, July 10, 2013. “It means a great deal to honor a fellow Marine and give closure to his family,” Baker said. “Those who give the ultimate sacrifice, regardless of the form of service, are the reason we can do what we do.”

 

Photo: Brynley, one-year-old daughter of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, looks up at the flag that was draped over her dad’s casket during his burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Brynley, one-year-old daughter of Lance Cpl. Travis Turbyfill, looks up at the flag that was draped over her dad’s casket during his burial at Arizona Pioneer Home Cemetery in Prescott, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Captain of the Crew

On July 11, family and friends gathered in memory of Jesse Steed at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz.

Photo: Family members carry the casket bearing Marine Corps Cpl. Jesse Steed into Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

Family members carry the casket bearing Marine Corps Cpl. Jesse Steed into Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

Flag of the Fallen

During the service, family remembered Jesse for his humor, his commitment and his love for each one of them. The Marine Corps presented his widow, Desiree, with a flag in gratitude for his years of service.

Photo: Desiree Steed, wife of Cpl. Jesse Steed, is handed the flag that was draped over her husband’s casket by Marine Corps Master Sgt. Terry Kirkham, operations chief assigned to I&I Phoenix, during Jesse’s funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Arizona, July 11, 2013.

Desiree Steed, wife of Cpl. Jesse Steed, is handed the flag that was draped over her husband’s casket by Marine Corps Master Sgt. Terry Kirkham, operations chief assigned to I&I Phoenix, during Jesse’s funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Arizona, July 11, 2013.

Not Alone

Desiree must now continue life without Jesse, her “rock.” But she is not alone. She has the support of family and friends and the other Hotshot widows to help her make it through.

Photo: Desiree Steed, wife of Jesse Steed, mourns with a family member during her husband’s funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

Desiree Steed, wife of Jesse Steed, mourns with a family member during her husband’s funeral at Heights Church in Prescott, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

The Steed Family

Cambria, Jesse’s three-year-old daughter, while too young to understand what her dad’s death means, has many reminders of how much he loved her, including the playground he and other Hotshots built in their backyard.

Photo: Cambria, age three, plays in the playground built by her dad, Cpl. Jesse Steed, and fellow Hotshot firefighters in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

Cambria, age three, plays in the playground built by her dad, Cpl. Jesse Steed, and fellow Hotshot firefighters in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

His Shadow

Caden, Jesse’s four-year-old son, loved tagging along with his dad wherever he went whether working in the garage or at the station.

Photo: Caden, age four, plays with family dog Bella in the backyard before his dad Cpl. Jesse Steed’s funeral in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

Caden, age four, plays with family dog Bella in the backyard before his dad Cpl. Jesse Steed’s funeral in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 11, 2013.

He Had to Be His Dad

Caden loved dressing up and pretending to be a firefighter. But being just any firefighter wasn’t good enough — he had to be his dad.

Photo: Caden’s firefighter rain coat hangs at the entrance to the Steed home in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Caden’s firefighter rain coat hangs at the entrance to the Steed home in Prescott Valley, Ariz., July 10, 2013.

Community in Mourning

The small, close-knit community of Prescott is heartbroken by the loss of the 19 heroes who gave their lives to protect Yarnell. Displays are located throughout town in honor of their sacrifice and to keep their memories alive. They will never be forgotten.

Photo: A display honoring the 19 firefighters killed while battling wildfires in Yarnell, Ariz., sits outside the Prescott Fire Department July 9, 2013.

A display honoring the 19 firefighters killed while battling wildfires in Yarnell, Ariz., sits outside the Prescott Fire Department July 9, 2013.

Photo: A Prescott, Ariz., resident pauses to remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots at the memorial across from Prescott Station No. 7, July 11, 2013.

A Prescott, Ariz., resident pauses to remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots at the memorial across from Prescott Station No. 7, July 11, 2013.

 

 

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