He let us know that he loved us, that he missed us already — which was a common thing for him to do when he would go on a fire because of the dangers of the job. He always would tell us he loved us. —Juliann Ashcraft
Andrew Ashcraft, 29, of Prescott, Ariz., was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and one of 19 firefighters who died battling a fire that swept through Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday.
Less then two days after Andrew Ashcraft's life was taken, Juliann Ashcraft spoke about her husband and the other members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew.
"They were heroes in our home. They were heroes in our community," Juliann said on the "Today" show. "They were heroes to the people that they helped there. Our kids will remember them as heroes as well."
Juliann spoke from her home, where a photo of her and her husband was displayed, along with his framed uniform and other memorials. A devastated wife, Ashcraft held back tears as she was asked to describe the kind of man her husband was.
"Not just him, but all of the 19 men who lost their lives," Juliann said. "And of course I'm partial and I love dearly and miss dearly my husband and the father to my children. He was the most amazing man, the best person I know, had a contagious smile, a heart of gold. That's why he chose to do what he did, and work where he worked, because he wanted to protect the community that he lived in and loved."
Earlier on Sunday, Juliann had been in contact with her husband via text messages and even received a photo message of where he had sat near the fire to eat lunch. She described some of the last messages that she sent back and forth with her husband.
"He let us know that he loved us, that he missed us already — which was a common thing for him to do when he would go on a fire because of the dangers of the job. He always would tell us he loved us," Juliann said.
"I had gone to church with our four children, and our oldest son gave a talk in church this past Sunday that he was sad that he missed, so he had messaged me and told me to let him know he was proud of him."
Juliann ultimately expressed her appreciation for the 19 heroic men.
"They loved what they did," she said. "These men worked together. They lived together. They fought fires together. And they died together doing what they loved."6 comments on this story
Andrew's mother was also featured on CBS news, discussing her son's last moments and the comfort she has received.
"Last night I laid in bed, and I could hear his voice, in his little sarcastic tone, 'Mom, I'm OK. We'll be OK.' And I said 'Thank you, Andrew, for letting me know.'"