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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Aviator
Age: 36
Year of Death: 2002

Craig LaBare

Submitted by his wife

Craig was born on a rainy afternoon‚ December 9‚ 1965‚ to Roger and Mary Louise LaBare. The family made their home in Walnut Creek‚ California‚ where Craig’s inquisitive nature was apparent from the start. His nickname Sparkler captured his cheerful‚ outgoing nature. At the age of three‚ he joyfully appeared in the house with garter snake in hand. Mary Lou quelled her own fear‚ and encouraged Craig’s love of nature by showing him the benefit of the catch and release program.

The family moved to Fullerton when Craig was four years old. Soon thereafter Randy joined the family. Craig was tickled that he was not subjected to a sister! The first glimmer of Craig’s intrepid spirit shone in the swimming pool where he swam and dove with courage and delight.

At the age of twelve‚ the family moved again‚ this time to Sacramento. As a young boy Craig was part of the gifted student program‚ and was a pleasure to his teachers. Mary Lou enrolled Craig at Sacramento Country Day before his junior year of high school. His scholastic aptitude and high test scores gained him admission to UC Berkeley in 1984‚ where his parents had met years earlier. While at Cal he formed many lifelong friendships‚ most influential of which was with Ingrid Bailey.

He caught the ski bug‚ and moved to Kirkwood‚ California. The seasonal lifestyle led to a summer position as a Wildland Firefighter on the Silver State Hotshots. Almost immediately Craig became intrigued with the aerial aspects of firefighting.

With a little arm twisting from Ingrid‚ Craig moved to the Manoa Valley of Oahu‚ Hawaii in 1990‚ and took a position as a high-rise window cleaner. Craig quickly adapted to the tropical pleasures of scuba diving‚ beach parties and island culture. He combated the high cost of living with a stint as a cave dweller. Always abreast of the latest technology‚ Craigïs cave was equipped with one of the first cell phones as well as stereo music. Window cleaning provided the means to finance training as a pilot. To faster accumulate multi-engine flight hours‚ Craig flew a volunteer mail run to the leper colony on the island of Molokai. With the encouragement of his flight instructor‚ he continued to earn advanced ratings‚ which qualified him to fly cargo planes out of Saipan‚ in the South Pacific.

In 1996 Craig moved with his girlfriend to the Denver area. It was at this time he hired on as a co-pilot for Hawkins and Powers Aviation. He flew the KC-97‚ a close relative of the B-29‚ out of Ft. Wainwright‚ Alaska for two years. Back in the lower 48‚ Craig spent a great deal of time at the family ranch in the Dunnigan Hills near Woodland‚ California. On one of these outings‚ with a little help from Ingrid‚ Craig renewed an old Kirkwood friendship with Laurie Houchins. While on a group camping trip to the Big Sur Coast on New Years Eve‚ Craig and Laurie’s friendship evolved into a storybook love affair. The couple married February 26th‚ 2001 at the family home in a ceremony which Ingrid performed.

During the year and half they were married‚ Laurie enjoyed her role as a Suburban housewife‚ following Craig throughout the fire season to each new dispatch in their Chevy Suburban. Everywhere they went people were touched by their devotion to one another and the depth of their connection.

In the fall of 2001‚ after three seasons as co-pilot in the C-130 Hercules‚ Craig earned his Initial Attack Captains Card‚ an achievement he was extremely proud of.

The following spring‚ the couple bought their first home on the North Coast of California‚ near their dear friend Ingrid. Craig was excited to finally apply his talents as a carpenter and handyman to a home of his own.

On June 17th‚ 2002 Craig’s life came to a tragic end while flying on the Canon Fire near Walker‚ California.

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  1. I went to grade school with Craig and have such fond memories of him and the rest of the Sunset Lane bus stop crew. He was smart and funny and genuinely was a kind hearted person. I am sad I never got to know him as an adult as he lived such an adventurous life. He was always one of those people I wondered what happened to and I was so very sad to learn of his death. The world lost a good one when he passed..

    – Nancy Hostert-Ruiz
  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful biography and remembrance of Craig. I’m very sorry for your lose.
    I went to Laguna Road with Craig. We were in the gifted program together.
    I had a huge crush on him in 4th grade. My mom told his mom that ” Marjee thinks very highly of Craig”. In the supermarket one day. I about died of embarrassment. He was always smiling and very clever.
    I’m sure his wife was a happy lady.
    Blessings

    – Marjee Kaylor Kress
  3. I never knew Craig Labare, but as a resident of Walker, California, so many of us want to at least post an official Thank You to his wife and family for his ultimate sacrifice while fighting the Cannon Fire 17 years ago. Tanker 130 crashed in our town that June afternoon, and tomorrow, August 10, 2019 at 10am, the town is rededicating a new monument for these 3 men. We have met and shared our thanks with the family members of pilot Steve Wass and Engineer Mike Davis; but other than this memorial site, we have found no means of extending the thanks of an entire town to the co-pilot of Tanker 130, Craig Labare.
    Should you pass through our town of Walker, California, you will find Craig, Steve and Mike memorialized on the monument facing the field just North of town where the flight of Tanker 130 ended so tragically.
    From a resident of Walker representing many many grateful residents: We Thank You.
    Chuck & Donna Evans and many more.

    – Chuck Evans
  4. I was Craig’s next door neighbor in the dorm our first year at Berkeley in 1984. Even though he was 6 months older, he immediately felt like a little brother to me. Craig had such an amazing sense of humor and we were constantly cracking each other up. I knew Ingrid and often participated in games of “dorm-ball” in her room. Hi Ingrid! So glad you remained a huge factor in his life!!

    In the short span of our friendship, we had some amazing adventures together. Along with some dorm buddies and others, we helped revive a long dead fraternity, Psi Upsilon. One of the trips we took as a group was to a KOA campground in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I sprained my ankle playing football and Craig drove out on the field in his ancient Ranchero and carted me back to the tent. On the way home the following day, the rear tire began rubbing the fender. We pulled over and cooked canned food on the engine block while waiting for a tow truck. As the driver began to pull away, he freaked out and pulled back over immediately. Turns out the inside of the rear-end gear had dissolved and the tire was coming off with the axle still attached!

    Another adventure also involves the Ranchero. We drove from my apartment in Oakland to a storage unit in Sacramento to retrieve an Asteroids game he had sold to my neighbors Chan and Colin. While the axle stayed together, it was pouring rain almost the entire time. After the 4 hour round trip, we had to carry a full-size arcade game up 4 flights of stairs…mostly on my back!

    Unfortunately, Craig and I did not have the most stringent study habits and I left Berkeley after my third year, never to return. Much to my sadness, we lost touch after that. While I am sad that he is gone, he leaves an amazing legacy; so much accomplished in such a short life. He truly embodied the “live every day as if it is your last” ethos.

    My condolences to his parents, his wife, and of course Ingrid.

    – John Gillespie
  5. April 1,2022
    I have been thinking about Craig for a few days now and as I search for him today, I have learned the tragic news. My heart goes out to his wife and family. I hired Craig to wash windows for my company in Honolulu after Ingrid said she had a friend in California she had fought fires with. Craig was an outstanding employee and took to high rise window washing like a duck to water. I am in possession of the raw taping of a television show Craig and I were privileged to star on while washing windows at Discovery Bay in Waikiki, if his family would like to see. I started my flight training HNL airport, and as Craig and I talked about it he said he wanted to learn to fly also. He was a great pilot.

    If the family would like to, please email me.
    Ingrid, if you read this, please email me.

    Dennis Faneros
    Superior Window Washing Service

    – Dennis Faneros