Iowan relatives are mourning the loss of a fallen firefighter in Arizona.
One of the 19 firefighters killed Sunday was 24-year old Dustin DeFord. His cousin lives in Ankeny.
“He always loved life he always was so positive always had a smile on his face always ready to make people laugh always had people rolling on the ground laughing so I’ll miss his joy that he had,” says cousin, Justin DeFord.
Fallen firefighter Dustin DeFord is being remembered as a hero.
Justin DeFord said he got a call from his mom telling him what happened to his cousin.
“She said I have bad news, Dustin was killed in the fires in Arizona and it was his unit and I couldn`t believe it at first,” says Justin DeFord.
Justin says his older cousin loved being a firefighter, it was in his blood.
“His whole family was firefighters, my Uncle Steve, their dad was a firefighter, the oldest joined the Marines and the next four were firefighters, they all grew up with it,” says Justin DeFord.
DeFord was a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a fire crew that included the best of the best.
“We`re proud that he is a firefighter and he died doing what he loved,” says Justin DeFord.
Justin says although Dustin’s death came as a shock, the family is finding peace knowing about that Dustin had such a strong faith.
“We can rest easy spiritually knowing where he is today, it`s still hard we all miss him like crazy but we rest easy in that,” says Justin DeFord.
Pastor Sam Webb is also finding comfort in his faith.
“We`ve been in other major crisis and tragedies in our life and in our country and we`ve rebounded and I think our faith is a big part of that,” says Pastor Webb of Grimes.
The Grimes resident used to live in Prescott, Arizona. Between 2008-2011 he was the Chaplain for the Prescott Fire Department including The Granite Mountain Hotshots.
He said he built personal relationships with several of the men who passed away.
“We just had a really good friendship and relationship with not just The Hotshots but with their families their Moms and Dads too,” says Pastor Webb.
Pastor Webb says the last couple days have been hard, remembering the men lost and knowing about the men still out their fighting.
“I think what I struggle with is the rest of the teams and the struggle and the emotion and the stress of continuing you have to move on you have to keep going,” says Pastor Webb.
Pastor Webb says he hopes to travel to Arizona for the memorial services of his fallen friends.