By Becky Maxedon
The remains of two firefighters killed in a plane crash July 10 near Wkieup were given a hero’s sendoff today in Lake Havasu City.
The firefighters, Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the U.S. Forest Service.
The pair was performing an aerial reconnaissance mission to assist in fighting the Cedar Basin Fire.
According to an Associate Press report, the Beech C-90 aircraft was flying over the lightening-caused fire near Wikieup around noon July 10.
Wikieup is in Mohave County about 123 miles northwest of Phoenix.
The firefighters were brought to the Mohave County Medical Examiner in Lake Havasu City the evening of July 10 and then were put under the care of Bradbury Memorial Center in Lake Havasu City.
Today, the remains of Piechura and Miller were ceremoniously escorted to the Lake Havasu City Airport where an Arizona Public Service Ranger aircraft transported them to their respective final resting places.
While the firefighters were in Lake Havasu – both at the medical examiner’s location and at Bradbury Memorial Center – first responders kept watch, four at a time, around the clock until their departure today.
According to Desert Hills Fire Department Battalion Chief Bryant Stanec, the U.S. Forest Service oversaw the Honor Watch and firefighters from both the Lake Havasu City Fire Department and Desert Hills participated, along with people from throughout the country.
The DPS Ranger flight would take Piechura to Marana Regional Airport in Tucson and Miller to Falcon Field in Mesa.
The procession delivering the remains to the airport in Lake Havasu City included local fire department participants as well as those from Bullhead City, Bureau of Land Management Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management Aravaipa Hotshot Crew, AMI Ambulance service and more.