SJ memorial for CAL FIRE pilot killed in line of duty

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A public memorial was held in San Jose for CAL FIRE pilot Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt who died fighting a fire near Yosemite.

A public memorial service was held Tuesday in San Jose for the CAL FIRE air tanker pilot who died two weeks ago near Yosemite.

Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt flew for CAL FIRE for 13 years and was a Navy pilot before that.

Rangers from the National Park Service and firefighters from across the state gathered here to honor Hunt at the Church on the Hill memorial in San Jose. It is a reminder to each of them how dangerous their jobs are.

It was a time to pay tribute to a hero. One of those nameless souls who saves lives from aircraft in order to drop retardant over fast-spreading wildfires in support of ground crews.

"He touched the lives and saved the lives of people who never ever got to meet him. He was a hero," said his college roommate John Lavery.

The 63-year-old was part of the 28-member team of CAL FIRE pilots. He flew an S2T air tanker for 13 years, like the one that did a flyover for the estimated 1,000 mourners at this memorial service. He died two weeks ago near Yosemite at the Dog Rock fire.

They were family members, colleagues, and friends who had known hunt for close to 40 year. Such as the man he shared the cockpit in the navy.

"To say that he was a natural, well, he was a natural. It came very easy to him. He just was professional in all aspects of his flying," said Scott Stahler, retired Naval aviator.

It was a time for the family to say its final goodbye. To remember a man who taught science when he wasn't flying.

"Today we celebrate a husband, a father, a friend, a teacher, a colleague and a hero. We will miss him forever," said his daughter, Sarah Hunt Lauterbach.

"Craig's loss is going to hurt for a long time to come, and it needs to hurt so that it will remind us how dangerous this job is and how precious every moment is with our loved ones, our friends and our co-workers," said CAL FIRE Chief Ken Pimlott.

Related Topics:
wildfireforest firefirefightersfirefighter killedevacuationcal firecrashfirefire deathairplaneYosemite National ParkSan Jose
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