Local firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire returning to Southland

July 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The bodies of two local firefighters who lost their lives battling the deadly Arizona wildfire are returning to the Southland on Wednesday.

Kevin Woyjeck and Christopher MacKenzie were among the 19 firefighters killed while battling the Yarnell fire on June 30.

A C-130 aircraft carrying their bodies is expected to arrive at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos at 1 p.m. Immediately following the landing, a memorial ceremony will be held on the ramp of the plane.

Tuesday, thousands of firefighters across the nation gathered in Prescott Valley, Ariz. to remember the fallen firefighters. Vice President Joe Biden, members of Congress and state leaders attended the service to pay their respects to the elite hot-shot crew. Also, more than 300 firefighters from Los Angeles County traveled to Arizona for the event.

Woyjeck, 21, was from Seal Beach. He was the son of a Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain. Woyjeck's body will be escorted by the L.A. County Fire Department to a mortuary in Long Beach.

MacKenzie, 30, was raised in the San Jacinto Valley and graduated from Hemet High School. His father also served as a fire captain in Moreno Valley. MacKenzie's body will be escorted by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service to a mortuary in Hemet where he grew up.

At the Tuesday ceremony, the lone survivor who served as a lookout for the hot-shot crew, spoke out for the first time.

"I miss my brothers, and we're here today to remember them," said Brendan McDonough. "I love my family, all of you that are out there. Thank you for supporting me."

At the end of the memorial, the sound of a bell echoed throughout the arena to symbolize the firefighters' end of watch.

Wednesday's ceremony is being coordinated in part by the National Guard and the California Fire Foundation's Last Alarm Service Team.


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