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AZ Hotshots, Jersey Retirement
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier via AP, File

As the Yarnell Hill Fire burned across 8,400 acres of land in central Arizona, members of the Prescott Fire Department — the oldest in the state — were among the more than 400 firefighters working to control the blaze. On June 30, 2013, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, one of the department’s teams, perished as the flames overran them. National Interagency Fire Center records indicate the Granite Mountain event is the single-deadliest loss of life among wildland firefighters since 1933.

Less than two hours from where the tragedy took place, the Alliance of American Football’s Arizona Hotshots began play this year with a nickname created to honor the state’s firefighters. The organization announced they will retire the No. 19 on March 3, 2019 in memory of the lives lost on that tragic day.

While 19 men between the ages of 21 and 43 died, there was a lone survivor of the Hotshot crew members. Brendan McDonough, who was 21 years old at the time, was assisting outside of the fire when his friends were overrun. The 20th Granite Mountain Hotshot wrote an incredible book honoring his friends that is available right here on Amazon.

Arizona Hotshots Director of Communications Daniel Kurish tweeted the announcement late Monday night.

According to the team’s press release, the ceremony prior to Sunday’s game will include several awesome tributes to the men and women who risk their lives in Arizona, as well as culminating with the jersey retirement during halftime.

Pregame Ceremony

All Present uniform personnel will be escorted to the field for pregame ceremony

Hotshots will honor those public safety officers we lost this past year

Families of those lost will be down on the field during Pregame

Coin Flip – Suzanne Wagner, Mother of a fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot (100 club)

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Ball Delivery – Tempe Chief of Fire / Tempe Chief of Police

Halftime Ceremony

Honoring the Granite Mountain Hotshots with the retirement of the number 19

Video dedication by the AAF/Hotshots

Families of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots present and on the field

Hotshots will retire 19 and unveil it on Southeast Elevator Tower

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park pays homage to all 19 men who lost their lives trying to protect the residents of Arizona. It’s one of many tributes to the brave firefighters who died, and now Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University will be home to another salute to those men.

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The Hotshots (2-1) will host the Atlanta Legends (0-3) at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, and the game will air on NFL Network.

READ MORE: AAF Faces Massive Lawsuit Over Allegedly Stealing Idea for the League

John Duffley About the author:
John joins the FanBuzz team with five years of experience freelancing as a sports writer for TheDupes.net and Football.com. A graduate of Penn State University, John currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. He is also a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
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