Saturday, May 19, 2018

~ 20th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Event ~

"Courageously They Died - By Inspiration They Lived" - LAFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial




Last year, I was honored to attend the Los Angeles Fire Department Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony.  I walked away with a deep respect for the LA Fire Department and their heroic efforts to remember those fallen firefighters.  I wrote about this event in a post called "Courageously They Died - By Inspiration They Lived."




~ LAFD Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony ~

Recently, President Jack Wise of the LAFD Fire Hogs M/C asked if I could help spread the word about the upcoming 20th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial event.  The purpose is to remember our fallen firefighters and to raise money for the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief Association, Widows, Orphans, and the Disabled Firemen's Fund, where all proceeds go directly to them.

It is important to note that this event has generated over $25,000 each of the last four years, bringing the total to over $300,000 generated for the Fallen Heroes over the last 19 years.

I just returned from an epic motorcycle adventure out to Big Bend National Park in west Texas.  On my way home, I stopped by the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial to honor the nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Fire on June 30, 2013.  So when I got the request from Jack Wise to post their message on my blog, it was an honor.  This is such a worthy cause and I encourage my readers to attend if possible.

And if you can't attend, take a few minutes to thank the next firefighter that you see for their service.  More details about this event are as follows:

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DESCRIPTION

On Saturday, July 14, 2018, the LAFD Fire Hogs M/C will be sponsoring the 20th Annual Fallen Heroes Memorial Run and Fund Raiser to raise money for the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association, Widows, Orphans, and Disabled Firemen’s Fund. Come join us at 0900 hrs as we ride from our Fire Museum (1355 N. Cahuenga Blvd) in Hollywood, up along the Coast with a couple of scenic stops, then through the canyons to our final destination of the Sage Brush Cantina (23527 Calabasas rd., Calabasas) for music/ luncheon and a raffle to benefit the Widows, Orphans, and Disabled Firemen’s Fund. All are welcome ! If ya cant make the ride meet us at the Sagebrush for the luncheon Raffle and Music! Be there at 1230 to watch the riders come in!! The fund raising events at the Sagebrush Cantina start at 1230 pm. Join us for an afternoon of FUN!! Riders and NON-Riders are ALL WELCOME! All riders and passengers must bring a copy of their signed rider release to participate, copies will be available at the registration Booth. Pre-registered orders for the ride (by July 1, 2018) to receive a Run T-shirt.
Tickets are $40 for a single rider and $70 for a rider with passenger when pre-registered. Only Tickets purchased prior to July 1, 2018, include a Run T-Shirt. Drivers must be 18 years old to participate. Riders and Passengers must sign Waivers. Non-riders and those wishing to join for the luncheon, music, and fund raising festivities at the Sagebrush Cantina (23527 Calabasas Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302) at 1230 pm, the cost is $25 pre-registration (Run shirt not included). Tickets will be slightly higher at the door.
The Anza Hotel is giving us discount room rates if you book by June 13, 2018, call the Anza at 818 222-5300 and ask for the "Firehogs Fallen Heroes July 2018" rate or if you book online at "https://www.theanzahotel.com" use in the group code "180713fire" you will get the same discounted rate. Rooms must be booked by June 13 and they only have a limited number of rooms as of now, which are going fast!!!
Rider Waiver available at registration
visit our facebook.com/Fire Hogs M/C, Website WWW.firehogs.org
FAQs
Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?
Yes. You must be 18 years old to ride a motorcycle in the event. No age limit for passengers and those traveling by car.
How can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Go to our web site Firehogs.org to contact any one of the Board members.
What's the refund policy?
You can request a refund up to seven days before the event.
Do I have to ride a motorcycle to attend?
NO! We encourage those NON motorcycle riding folks that want to attend the ceremony at the Museum in the morning to drive their cars there ( parking is limited) and then meet us at the Sagebrush Cantina for the Raffle, Lunch, and Music benefiting your Fallen Heroes. If you cant make the Ceremony in the morning, come to the Sagebrush by 1230hrs to watch the group ride in and then join in the afternoon activities. Those that are not riding in the motorcycle procession can obtain a lunch only ticket at a discount rate. ( Event shirts are not included)
Will there be Fire Hog and event merchandise available at the Sagebrush Cantina?
Yes. For those that were not able to pre-register in time to secure a Event Shirt there will be a limited number for sale at the registration in the morning and at the Sagebrush Cantina along with other great Fire Hog apparel.
Can I have the Event Shirts mailed to me if I miss the Event.
Unfortunatley no. Event shirts that have been purchased must be picked up at the event, any merchandise not picked up within 2-hours of the event ending will be sold for charity. See refund policy above. 
How Much is Donated?
With an ALL Volunteer staff, All procedes made from this event go directly to the Widows, Orphans, and Disabled Fire Fighters Fund. We are proud that this event has generated over $25,000 each of the last four years, bringing our total to over $300,000 this event has generated for our Fallen Heroes over the last 19 years.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

~ Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial ~

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe" ~ John Muir.


Robert Griego after a six mile hike up Granite Mountain


Recently, I found myself head-to-head with an awesome memorial in the state of Arizona.  I had never been there before, but I knew one day I would.

You see, this memorial is for the nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hot Shot Crew who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Fire on June 30, 2013.


Thank you hotshots (all 20 members)

In fact, I had never been to Yarnell, Arizona but I felt comfortable with my decision to take this direction home from Big Bend National Park in West Texas.  I am poor when it comes to reading informational signs, and this time was no different.  Had I read the sign, I would have at least carried water, applied sun screen, and worn my sandals.  

Only later, after my long hike, did I read the sign that said the trail was strenuous, uphill, and a 6 mile round trip.



The view of the Memorial (lower left, center) and Yarnell


The Memorial. Photo by CNN


In my cowboy boots, it was a hump.  I was determined to see the memorial regardless if it took me to the end of the earth.  

I was overwhelmed by the tribute paid to the nineteen firefighters as I walked up the mountain.  Nineteen granite boulders cradled a picture of each fallen man with a personal description of who they were.  

The sun was going down when a man descending down the trail warned me, "It's late, you'd better turn back as it is still a long way."  I thanked him, adding "I'd be fine, I intend to make the journey.  I rode out here from West Texas."  Tired, I was only 3/4 the way to the observation site that looked down on the memorial and the town of Yarnell where they met their fatal end.

I remember it was very windy.  I thought about those windy conditions as they fought that fire and later fought for their lives.  Then, the wind stopped, just like that.  The silence consumed me.  

It was late in the evening and I was here alone just as so many have done before me.  Offering a silent prayer, I added "Do you remember me from Happy Jacks?" Silence.  Then more silence.  And then, the wind picked up again as my words blew closer to them to hear.  The wind saw to it.

I have never met the Woyjeck family but I felt a personal connection to their son, Kevin who I met at Happy Jacks Cafe in Arizona on one of my motorcycle trips from New Mexico.

My letter to the Woyjeck family reads:

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Dear Woyjeck Family.

Time moves slowly when pain is always there.  I do not pretend to understand but I am connected by a force that I do not understand.
Recently, I was on another motorcycle trip, this time out to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. 
On my way home, I decided to go by Prescott and Yarnell on my way home to Three Rivers, California.  I had never been to Yarnell before, yet, I knew one day I would be there if only in silence.
Today was the day.  Deep breath. OK, walk up that mountain.
The hike was longer than I thought.  In my cowboy boots, it was a challenge.
Honestly, I was overwhelmed with the tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots.
I had left Big Bend National Park only days before so I was a bit tired, but determined to visit this site.
For reasons that I do not fully understand, I stopped by your son’s granite rock along the 3 mile hike up the mountain.  I do remember him from my brief encounter at Happy Jacks in Arizona.
I don’t know what else to say, other than I paused by his rock, to say that I remembered. 
I’m proud to have met him and the other Granite Mountain Hotshots, doing what they loved, if only years later.
Tired, I left with a better outlook on life.
Robert Griego
May 3, 2018


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The Woyjeck family's thank you card arrived today with their personal message inside, along with two remembrances of their son Kevin.  It was an honor to receive their card and touching words and to share their story.



The Woyjeck Family