Retired military members, the Patriot Riders, pay tribute to Granite Mountain Hotshots

PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ - Patriot Riders from all over the nation came to Prescott Valley Tuesday to pay tribute to the Prescott 19.

The Hotshot crew was killed June 30 when a windblown wildfire overcame them in the small town of Yarnell, Arizona.

"This is what we have to focus on, the mission at hand," said veteran and Patriot Rider Phil Whitehead.

Whitehead never fails to complete a mission. "My little piece is to get as many flags in the hands of people as possible," he said.

And he couldn't hand out the 200 flags fast enough. Whitehead says paying tribute to the 19 hotshots helps him heal.

"I'm still grieving for people who died in my arms years ago, and it never goes away completely. But it helps you focus on what's important and the here and now is what's important," said Whitehead.

And for fellow rider Rick Romero, being at the service was more important than ever. Romero is the Assistant Fire Chief from New Mexico.

"It's a hole in our heart when we've lost just one, but to lose 19 it is just magnified. It brings me closure," said Romero. He knows these 19 fallen heroes will never be forgotten. "They will be remembered every time we are on the fire line."

"These guys did what many wouldn't do, they ran into danger…instead of running away," said Whitehead.

The memorial service will re-air Saturday, July 13 at 10 a.m. on ABC15 digital channel 15.2, Cox Cable channel 95 and Century Link channel 16.

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