WFGI Statement- Only the Brave (movie)

** This post was originally published on October 10, 2017 **


Only the Brave is a Hollywood movie based on the personal stories of only- surviving member Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Brendan McDonough, deceased Superintendent of Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Eric Marsh, and Eric’s wife, Amanda Marsh. The movie is based on several true events, but in no way, is it a documentary, nor is it historically accurate.  It is neither an accurate accounting of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew or the events of the Yarnell Hill Fire, where 19 of the 20 man crew died.

The WFGI feels, that it is imperative, the public knows that the Yarnell Hill Fire is one of many incidences where wildland firefighters have died in the line of duty. In the Yarnell Hill Fire, one of our directors’ and an officer lost their sons, two directors lost their husbands, and another officer lost his friends, and his crew-members. We know the devastation of losing a loved one. We know the sting of reopening wounds caused by anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and memorial services.

Many of us learned through social media, friends, or the news media that our loved one had died. That is not how a wife should learn that her husband has died. That is not how a mother should learn that their son died. That is insensitive, and it is wrong.

We went from being private families, to sharing our loved one with the public. Our loss was public. Our grief was public. Our struggles were public. Our fight was public. With this movie their deaths are marketed as heroic, and their actions brave, to sell the story of only three individuals, nor did any other families profit in any way from this movie.

WFGI understands that the Yarnell Hill Fire is historical. In no way do we believe that the legacies left behind by each fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot is his death. Rather, the honorable life that he lived, the professional way he worked, and the huge love he had for his family. This is especially true for Andrew Ashcraft and Billy Warneke.

We ask that you not only remember the Yarnell Hill Fire, but all other incidences where a wildland firefighter perished or was injured. We ask that you remember that wildland firefighters risk their lives to combat wildfires, not for fame and fortune, but because it is their calling, and one of their many passions.

Know that this movie will not answer questions about what happened that day, outside of loss.  Nor does it represent how any of the other families, outside of the two mentioned earlier, reacted or dealt with this tragedy.  Remember this is a Hollywood movie.  It does not show complete truth, it is just a movie.  The WFGI first word in our creed is Truth.  We stand for: Truth, Transparency, Accountability and Change.