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Remains of Arizona firefighter return home

Local firefighters others gather Waukegan Regional Airport wait for remains Granite MountaHotshot firefighter Anthony Rose Wednesday July 10. | Frank

Local firefighters and others gather at Waukegan Regional Airport in wait for the remains of Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighter Anthony Rose Wednesday, July 10. | Frank Abderholden~Sun-Times Media

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Funeral services

Services will be held today, Thursday, July 11, for Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighter Anthony Rose of Beach Park at Congdon Funeral Home, 3012 Sheridan Road, Zion. Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and there will be a fire department line-up at 6:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. they will walk through.

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Updated: September 9, 2013 7:22PM

The remains of Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighter Anthony Rose, a former resident of Beach Park, returned home Wednesday, July 11, at Waukegan Regional Airport where firefighters from Wisconsin and Illinois in dress uniforms and equipment greeted him and family members.

Lake County firefighters and their equipment were mustered at the fire staging entrance on McAree Road, north of Yorkhouse Road at 8:30 p.m. to honor the former resident and his family. He was one of 19 Hotshot firefighters that died in the line of duty on June 30, while battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona.

Chris Wienckowki, 45, of Mundelein and his two children, Keegan, 16, and Clarissa, 12, came to the Waukegan airport with his sister-in-law Barbara, 46, of Gurnee to honor Anthony Rose because his brother, Lt. Andy Wienckowski of the Gurnee Fire Department, was part of the honor guard and they wanted to show their respect,

“My brother is in the honor guard and I wanted to support my brother and his extended family,” he said.

Barbara said it really hits home as a wife of a firefighter. “It’s tough. You come out to honor the fallen and show respect for our comrade and our brother,” she said, “And it brings it close to home. It reminds us that there are men and women who every day put their lives on the line,” she said.

“It’s a big family,” said Chris.

Beach Park Fire Department Chief Paul Tierney said it was important to honor Rose.

“We just want to show our respect as best we can to Rose and his family,” said the chief. Over 200 firefighters and police lined the Waukegan Airport main roadway. Two ladder trucks suspended a giant United States flag. Two large tanker trucks, one from the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District and one from Waukegan Fire Department sprayed a shroud of water over the airplane as it arrived.

“It doesn’t matter where you are from, the goal is to show support to someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he sad.

In Prescott, AZ., Tuesday, July 9, Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said, “Today, I think of them not as having fallen, but rather as having risen; risen far above any of us to a place of peace and comfort,” according to news reports.

Vice President Joe Biden said the men were of “uncommon valor.”

“You’re defined by your courage and redeemed by your loyalty. They were heroes long before we knew their names,” he said.

The head of the International Association of Fire Fighters, General President Harold A. Schaitberger, also commemorated the lives of 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hot Shots at their memorial service.

“The men we lost in those hills lived and served for others — for all of us,” he said. “Nineteen Brothers in Arms, bound together by the essence of the words ‘Honor’...’Commitment’... ‘Pride’...‘Courage’ and ‘Sacrifice.’ Incredible men, highly trained to endure conditions beyond the capacity of most of us,” he said in a prepared statement.

“They were a unique band of men in the fire service, responding across the country to raging wildfires that the public only views through the prism of their televisions. They were also 19 incredible husbands and husbands-to-be, fathers and fathers-to-be, sons, brothers and friends,” he said.

“But today we are all one family — the loved ones of the Yarnell Hills 19,” he said.

Rose, 23, who has his mother’s maiden name, moved to Arizona after attending Zion-Benton Township High School in Zion for two years. The family also lived in Wadsworth and he attended the old O’Plaine School and Viking Middle School in Gurnee School District 56 and Beach Park Middle School for eighth grade.

He moved in with his uncle, a dispatcher with the Crown King, Ariz., fire department and that was where the young Rose got his start as a dispatcher at 17. He then became a firefighter, and after a few years, he joined the Hotshots, wildfire firefighters who hauled 50 pounds of equipment into the back country to build fire breaks ahead of wildfires to save homes and lives. They have been specifically trained to respond to fires in remote regions with little or no logistical support. Rose was engaged to Tiffany Hettrick, who is 6 months pregnant with a baby girl. She is from Racine, Wis., but the two met in Arizona. “There’s not more I can ask of a son,” said Michael Sperry, his father, “He was getting his life together.”

His mother, Athena Rose Sperry, said they were close. “He was always just so excited (about his job), you could hear it in his voice,” she said.

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