William H. Warneke

  • Prescott Fire Department - Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots
  • Firefighter- EMT B
  • Age: 25
  • Year of Death: 2013

William Howard Warneke, “Billy,” as he was called by family and friends, was an avid outdoorsman. He was born in Hemet, California, on August 13, 1987, to Kathie Holland and Harry Warneke. He was raised in the country and was instilled with the morals of country living—love for country, integrity, honesty, and pride in one’s work. He lived each day with courage.

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After his high school graduation in 2005, Billy's courageous spirit led him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) when he was seventeen and to serve a combat tour in Iraq. His experiences in the USMC cultivated a strong leader. His fellow Marines often referred to as a 'model Marine' that they 'looked up to and admired'. 

Billy was an National Registered EMT-B, and held a degree in Fire Science. He was actively recruited by the Granite Mountain Hotshots in the spring of 2012 when he attended the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, Arizona.


When he was not working, he was learning something new. He frequently purchased books to read about his favorite topics: military history, reloading ammunition, construction, carpentry, landscaping, animal husbandry, archery, hunting, and wildlife. At the first opportunity he had he would apply his new knowledge into his life, whether it was building a chicken coop or fixing a broken something around the house.

Billy would always lend a helping hand without expecting a reward. He was always the country gentleman, opening doors and pulling out chairs. He would help a child with their homework or help them to overcome their fears through patience, understanding, and tutelage. The children in the neighborhood where he and his wife lived knew that Billy would always help them out if they had a fundraiser. Billy would buy items from their catalogs and take all of the vehicles to their car washes.

Billy loved to laugh and to play pranks on his wife or siblings. He was easygoing and quick to smile. He viewed everyday casually and as another day for adventure. A few days a week he would enjoy the things he loved doing—hunting, fishing, and mountaineering.


Billy possessed honor, high morals, and unwavering loyalty. He always strived to be the best in everything that he did, which led him to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. He believed that Granite Mountain IHC was a hotshot crew that deserved his admiration and respect. He made a commitment to himself that he would earn a coveted position in their ranks, which he fulfilled.

Billy married his high school sweetheart, Roxanne Preston on December 30th, 2008. Their first, and Billy's only child, was born six months after his death in 2013.

Billy is survived by his wife, Roxanne, and his daughter, Billie Grace.

To honor the life that he lived Roxanne co-founded the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute where she volunteers as the Executive Chairman.