John J. Percin Jr.

John J. Percin Jr.

John Percin loved his family and his beautiful English lab, Champ, more than anything in the world. John’s honesty and loyalty guided him every step of the way and will continue to touch many forever. John’s smile, kindness, and warm embrace were unmatched. All of those who knew John felt the exact same way.

John is forever grateful for the love and support of the Prescott, Arizona, community—a tight-knit place where he bettered himself and proudly called home. He was forever touched by the love of his friends at the Chapter Five Recovery Center, and he was equally touched by the love of his brothers in the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.

John’s passion for life was deep. He approached every day with optimism and excitement. John was truly at peace when he was out enjoying the beauty of life. While he shined in everything he did, his true passions were hiking, basketball, and family. John is a hero who made us all so very proud. He and his brothers will never be forgotten.

Jesse J. Steed

Jesse J. Steed

Jesse James Steed was born in Cottonwood, Arizona, September 28, 1976, to Claudia Federwisch. Jesse was the beloved husband of Desiree Steed and amazing father to Caden (4), and Cambria (3).

He was the second oldest of four siblings—Cassidy Steed, Levi Federwisch, and Taunya Steed—and grandson to Herman and Reaut Federwisch. Jesse was an amazing individual, husband, father, and brother to all. His children and wife were the light of his life; he was a truly dedicated family man.

Jesse grew up in the southwest, calling the quad city area his home. After Jesse graduated from high school he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving from 1996 until 2000. He joined the Forest Service in 2001, often saying it was the closest thing to military camaraderie that he could find in the civilian world. He worked on the Prescott Hotshot, helitack, and engine crews until he became a part of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots in 2009. He proudly served as the captain to a crew he referred to as a brotherhood.

Jesse enjoyed being outdoors hiking, running, and biking. He had a need for speed, whether on a street bike, dirt bike, or sand rail. He loved spending time with his kids doing whatever they wanted to do. He was a big kid himself, often called a teddy bear and a gentle giant. He was always the life of the party and the comedian of the group. He loved making people happy.

Jesse had a way of making everyone around him feel like they were the most special person in his life. He would always greet and leave you with a rib crushing hug and never said goodbye to anyone without an “I love you.”

Joe B. Thurston

Joe B. Thurston

Joe was a devoted husband, father, and son. He had a smile that would light up a room and a laugh that would warm your heart. Joe always did everything he could to help others.

An avid outdoorsman, he loved skateboarding, snowboarding, cliff jumping, hiking, and anything that could get the blood pumping. He was a talented drummer and member of several bands. Joe could always be found at the park with the kids or in the kitchen making up a masterpiece of a meal.

Joe earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 2006 and his EMT in 2011. Joe began his wildland fire career in 2008 working for Blacktimber Fire, as well as The Groom Creek Fire Department. He was thrilled and so proud when he became a Granite Mountain Hotshot in 2012.

A very smart and extremely loving man, he will be so missed.

He is survived by his wife, Marsena, and his children, Ethan and Collin.

Travis Turbyfill

Travis Turbyfill

Travis Turbyfill was born on March 25, 1986, and grew up in beautiful Prescott, Arizona. As a child he lived in Groom Creek, where his love for the outdoors began. He lived next door to his grandparents and spoke of hunting and fishing with his grandpa on a daily basis from the time he was three years old. Travis was an only child, but began developing friendships at a young age that would last a lifetime.

He graduated from Prescott High School in 2004 and fulfilled a lifelong dream when he began his career as a wildland firefighter in 2005. Travis served in the United States Marine Corps from 2007 to 2010. He then resumed his career as a firefighter in 2011 with the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, a crew of men who were not just coworkers but friends and brothers.

Travis’ first date with Stephanie was July 22, 2007. He told her just days before he died that he fell in love with her on that night. They were married on August 1, 2009, with their best friends and family surrounding them on the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. “He was the love of my life, my best friend, and my soul mate,” she says. “We loved spending time together, talking, and making each other laugh. We shared a tremendous pride for our two little girls, Brooklyn Elizabeth (2), and Brynley Elizabeth (1). I loved our life together.”

Travis was a hands-on dad. He changed diapers, painted toenails, and played with the girls non-stop. He had a heart of gold and wore it on his sleeve. “Not a day went by that we didn’t know how much he loved us, cared for us, and appreciated us,” says Stephanie. “He thought he was the luckiest man in the world, but I know we were the lucky ones.”

He was a strong man, a natural leader and a great firefighter. He loved what he did and did it well.

Andrew S. Ashcraft

Andrew S. Ashcraft

Andrew Sterling Ashcraft was born on February 15, 1984, to parents Deborah Pfingston and Thomas Ashcraft in Orange, California. At the age of five, Andrew moved to Prescott with his family, where he spent the next 24 years of his life with his brother, Thomas James (T.J.) Ashcraft II, and his sister, Shelby Laura Pfingston.

Growing up in Prescott, Andrew attended Abia Judd Elementary School, Mile High Middle School, and graduated from Prescott High School in 2003. It was at Prescott High that he met the love of his life, Juliann Crockett Ashcraft. The two were married on July 22, 2006, in Prescott, and have four children: Ryder Sterling (6), Shiloh (4), Tate Andrew (2), and Choice Crockett (18 months).

Andrew became a member of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots in 2011, and was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” honors for that fire season. He loved every second of his time on the crew and had dreamt of being a firefighter since he was a boy. Andrew was known for his contagious smile, his heart of gold, his genuinely kind spirit, and for loving his mustache. He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Most importantly, he was a loving husband, a tender father and a friend to all.

Robert E. Caldwell

Robert E. Caldwell

“I’d rather die in my boots than live in a suit.” Robert Caldwell lived by these words and was always a man true to his word. He died with honor, with his brothers, in the line of duty with his boots tight on his feet. Compassionate, sensitive, and never afraid to show his true emotions to those he loved and held close to his heart, Robert was unquestionably the most amazing husband, son, brother, father, and friend. He is survived by his wife, Claire; son, Zion; his mother and father, Dave and Linda Caldwell; and his sister, Taylor Caldwell.

His wife, Claire, says, “I am fortunate to be Robert’s wife. While I didn’t have him in my life long enough, each moment that we shared was a blessing. The night we met, we knew it in our hearts that we were soul mates. We had known each other for a thousand years before and would know each other for another thousand years. Robert was the kind of man every man strives to be—he was the husband every woman dreams of and a father a child could look up to. We were all so blessed to have him in our lives, and I will carry him in my heart for the rest of my life. There simply aren’t enough words to explain the love and gratitude I feel for him.”

Travis C. Carter

Travis C. Carter

Travis Carter was born on August 7, 1982, in Prescott, Arizona, to Tripp Carter and Glenna Eckel. As a little boy, he loved to work on the Necktie Ranch in Walnut Grove with his dad, Trip Carter, and grandpa, Arden Carter. He rode tractors, played in the snow, and loved Christmas time with his extended family at the ranch. As he grew older, Travis began to become a real help on the ranch and, according to his dad, he was a good hand and worked, branded, and shipped cattle, drove the large equipment, and was a great horse shoer.

Approaching high school, Travis was an outstanding athlete and, in 2000, began school at Orme in Dewey, Arizona, where he played football and was an all-state, all-conference football player. He scored 16 touchdowns his senior year as tailback. Married in 2005 to Krista Smalley, the couple has two children, Brayden and Brielle.

His firefighting career began in 2005, where he worked for the Prescott National Forest as a hotshot and worked on the Rodeo-Chediski Fire and many others until 2009. In 2009 he was chosen to be among the elite Granite Mountain Hot Shots crew through the City of Prescott. In 2009, the city received a grant from FEMA for firefighting, which provided a full-time career for each member of the crew. Their job was, in the off season, to trim brush and limbs to protect the areas in and around Prescott. They are known as Prescott’s Finest and were professionals with a great deal of training.

Travis has said that one of his favorite places on earth is the fishing pond at the ranch. His family is grateful to the Lord for Travis’ life and for the time they had with him. He will be greatly missed, but know he is finally home with the Lord, whom he loved.

Dustin J. DeFord

Dustin J. DeFord

Dustin James DeFord, 24, was born December 13, 1988, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Steve and Celeste (Crago) DeFord. Dustin joined brothers Brandon, Darren, Jonathan, and Ryan. Later, Kenton, Stephen, Rebecca, Nathaniel, and Heidi completed the family. The family moved to Columbus, Montana, in 1990 and later to Ekalaka, Montana, in 1996.

Like his siblings, Dustin was homeschooled through elementary and high school, graduating in 2007. He attended Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, South Dakota, graduating in 2010. Dustin decisively put his trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior as a young boy. In 2011, he took a short-term mission trip to Northern Alberta, Canada. Through college and after, Dustin worked for the Carter County Fire and Mitigation crew in Ekalaka. His ambition was to be a hotshot firefighter, so he was thrilled when he was accepted with the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.

Dustin was the “life of the party” at any gathering of friends or family. He loved entertaining with his goofy humor, hunting, spotlighting, espresso coffee, noise of any kind, social life, and life in general. He could be seen reading his Bible every morning.

Dustin is survived by his parents, Steve and Celeste DeFord; seven brothers, SSgt Brandon DeFord, Jonathan and Rachel (Anderson) DeFord, Darren and Becky (King) DeFord, Ryan DeFord, Kenton DeFord, Stephen DeFord, and Nathaniel Deford; two sisters, Rebecca DeFord and Heidi DeFord; one nephew, Tucker DeFord; three nieces, Sage DeFord, April DeFord, and Samantha DeFord; grandparents, Lyle and Emily DeFord and Bill and Flo Crago; and too many aunts, uncles, and cousins to list.