Various memorial services are being held locally for firefighters with Orange County roots killed battling Arizona's devastating Yarnell Hill wildfire last month. The Maricopa County medical examiner on Sunday released the bodies of all 19 Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew members who died June 30. They were honored at a memorial Tuesday in Prescott Valley that drew everyone from Vice President Joe Biden to four Costa Mesa firefighters to television news crews that provided live coverage.
The bodies of Kevin Woyjeck, a 21-year-old who hailed from a Seal Beach firefighter family, and Christopher MacKenzie, 30, of Hemet arrived at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base today for a “Memorial Ramp Ceremony” partly coordinated by the California Fire Foundation's Last Alarm Service Team.
Here's how City News Service described the scene: “The flag-draped caskets carrying the firefighters were brought to Los Alamitos aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130 from Prescott, Ariz. One at a time, their caskets were wheeled from the aircraft to waiting hearses, where
relatives and friends gathered around them and placed their hands on the flags–some leaning over to kiss them.”
Woyjeck, a former member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Explorer Post 9 and a Care Ambulance Service worker in Southern California, is to next be taken to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove for a funeral service at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Burial interment follows at Forest Lawn in Long Beach.
The son of LA County Fire Department Capt. Joe Woyjeck also leaves behind his mother Anna, brother Bobby and sister Maddy. A memorial fund for the Woyjeck family has been established at the F&A Federal Credit Union, account number 177222-2625.
A private service for cousins Grant McKee, 21, and Robert Caldwell, 23, is set for 11 a.m. July 20 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, which is expected to be filled over capacity.
McKee attended Newport Harbor High School until his senior year, when he moved to Arizona to live with his aunt, who is Caldwell's mother, in Prescott. The deceased cousins' grandmother is a 40-year Costa Mesa resident.
Robert helped get Grant onto the Hotshots.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.