The California Wildland Firefighter Memorial was dedicated last weekend, I had the honor of attending. The memorial has been a work in progress, one that started in the mid-nineties. After years of labor, it is finally completed. Below are some of the images that I captured of this special event.
The setting is beautiful, a peaceful place located in an oak grove. The site is next to the El Cariso guard station, home of the El Cariso Hot Shots. Sadly, several El Cariso members are memorialized on this wall.
Two rows of El Cariso Hot Shots. The front, veterans from the '60s, some of whom survived the Loop Fire burnover. The second row are current El Cariso members, currently working to keep the forest safe.
The Honor Guard consisted of members from the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, Los Angeles County Fire and the Orange County Fire Authority. They represented their agencies well, as well honoring as the fallen.
This gentleman, a member of the Los Angeles County Fire Dept, sang the national anthem. He did an amazing job, good enough for a professional sports venue.
There were a lot of speakers, the usual assortment of Chief officers and politicians. They all did well, but I was most impressed with these gentlemen. They were members of the El Cariso Hot Shots in 1966 and survived a burnover on the Loop fire. Eleven members of of their crew were killed, 10 seriously injured and another suffered minor injuries.
Some of these men still carry scars, both physical and emotional from the disaster. To hear them speak was an honor.
The honor guard performed a wreath ceremony, done with precision and perfection.
The bell ceremony signaled the end of the event. The setting and the simple, yet touching ceremony was a fitting way to pay homage to the wildland firefighters who have lost their lives while battling wildfire in California.
I plan to return to the California Wildland Firefighter Memorial, probably on a weekday when no one else is there. The serenity of the setting will provide contrast to the chaotic conditions that exist when the forest burns. If you ever get to Southern California, I reccomend that you do the same.
Strong work to the committee that put this memorial together, you managed to complete something that was long overdue.
Thanks for reading,