Firefighters’ memorial service features prayer written by Ramona Hotshot wife
By Karen Brainard
When Patricia “Trish” Huston of Ramona wrote “The Hotshot’s Prayer” 11 years ago, she had no idea that it would one day serve a need for those grieving the loss of 19 Hotshot crew members in Arizona.
“I’m so honored to know that my little prayer I wrote 11 years ago was so important,” said Huston, the wife of a Hotshots firefighter.
The prayer was read by the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, Brendan McDonough, at the memorial service on Tuesday in Prescott, Ariz., for the 19 Hotshots who were killed June 30 battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire.
Trish’s husband, Jim Huston, superintendent of the Laguna Hotshots, was at the memorial service, one of about 6,000 in attendance, to represent his crew. When his wife’s prayer was read, he said the arena was totally silent.
“It really hit home for us Hotshots while we were sitting at the memorial,” he said.
Trish watched the memorial service on TV and both were emotionally moved by seeing McDonough read the prayer.
“When I saw him reading it…to me, I’m just the little old country girl from Ramona…I could not stop crying,” she said.
The memorial service was not the first time they heard the prayer recited in recent days. The mayor of Prescott read the poem on the news after the crew members’ death, Jim said. It was a surprise to the couple.
Trish said when she heard the mayor read it, she thought “Are you serious?”
“Apparently someone went looking for a prayer and found (Trish’s) blog,” Jim said.
Her blog is wildlandfirefighterwives.blogspot.com, and for a reason that Trish cannot remember, she posted
“The Hotshot’s Prayer” on it in 2007.
Trish wrote the prayer in 2002 out of frustration because she could find prayers for emergency responders and structure firefighters but not wildland firefighters. She said Jim encouraged her to write a prayer.
“I didn’t write the prayer to become famous,” she said. “It was from my heart and I was proud of my husband. I never ever thought it would be needed for something like this.”
Trish is from a firefighting family. Her father, Capt. Ron Serabia of Ramona, retired after 32 years with the California Department of Forestry and Cal Fire, and flying spotter planes from the Air Attack Base in Ramona. Her grandfather, Emmett Donohue, who died last year, was a battalion chief in Julian. In addition, her brother and an uncle are firefighters.
“It’s in our blood,” said Trish.
Although she didn’t aspire to be a firefighter, she always knew she wanted to marry one. She met Jim through her brother. The couple, married for 16 years, have a 4-year-old son, Thomas, and a 5-month-old girl, Hannah.
Jim is the only one in Trish’s family to work for the U.S. Forest Service Hotshots, having picked that line because he enjoyed being outdoors, said Trish, adding that it is a physically demanding job.
“This is a very dangerous job,” she said.
Jim’s rank as superintendent would be the same as a battalion chief for the U.S. Forest Service, she noted. When she heard about the Hotshots who died in Arizona, Trish said, “I thank God that Jim was home that night.”
His job takes him to fight wildland fires out of state often, she said.
The U.S. Forest Service Hotshots are considered a national resource, Trish explained, so not only do they fight fires, but they travel all over for other emergencies. Trish said Jim is typically gone 4-1/2 months out of a six-month period.
Hotshots are a tight family, she noted. Although the Granite Mountain Hotshots were not under the U.S. Forest Service, Jim said he had worked with the group before and noted that of the 108 Hotshot crews across the country, most cross paths at some time.
Trish said her husband loves his job and she supports it, but it is hard when he leaves.
“It’s all in God’s hands,” she said. “God is a big part of our family.”
As for her prayer receiving national attention, Trish said, “I just feel so humble. It was very moving. I’ve cried a lot these past few days.”
Following is “The Hotshot’s Prayer,” for which Jim contributed some Hotshots lingo. The prayer was changed at the end for the memorial service because some of the crew members who died were not married, said Jim.
The Hotshot’s Prayer
When I am called to duty, Lord
To fight the roaring blaze, Please keep me safe and strong
I may be here for days.
Be with my fellow crewmembers,
as we hike up to the top.
Help us cut enough line,
For this blaze to stop.
Let my skills and hands be firm and quick.
Let me find those safety zones,
as we hit and lick.
For if this day on the line,
I should lose my life,
Lord, bless my Hotshot Crew,
my children and my WIFE.
—Patricia Huston, IHC wife, copyright October 2002
- Memorial service for Robert ‘Bob’ Ransom on Saturday
- Community Prayer Breakfast May 2 marks 60th National Day of Prayer
- Memorial service for Ryan Morgan is Saturday
- Memorial Day Weekend activities honor military who have died in service
- Community invited to Ramona’s Evening of Prayer
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