“Only the Brave” – Paying Homage to the Granite Mountain Hotshots

Granite Mountain Hotshot - Photo by Kari Greer, CC license

BY LAUREN ESCHENBRENNER

The film Only the Brave directed by Joseph Kosinski memorializes the Granite Mountain Hotshots , a team of valiant firefighters whose job was to fight fire with fire. These men were stationed in Arizona, where wildfires are a recurring danger to the environment. Although placed in life-threatening situations, with determination, hope, and strength, they put their city and the lives of others before their own.

Granite Mountain Hotshot – Photo by Kari Greer

The Granite Mountain Hotshots became one of the most elite firefighting teams in the whole country. While other people sheltered themselves and ran with fear from the fires, the hotshots ran towards it and looked it dead in the eye, fighting it off with all the courage they could muster up. Not only did they watch over homes, families, and everything they love, but they sparked a strong bond with each other. This bond came into focus when nineteen members of this elite crew of firefighters perished battling the Yarnell Hill Fire of June 28-30, 2013.

Josh Brolin portrays Eric Marsh, a 43-year-old marshal who led the hotshots since they became a nationwide firefighting crew in 2008. On the day of the Yarnell Hill Fire, he was supervisor of firefighting operations. His brave and heroic actions and words shaped his life, making him a strong, influential man amongst his crew. In the film and in documented biographies, Marsh was said use quotes to motivate his crew, which made him a man to remember.

Miles Teller plays Brendan “Donut” McDonough, a major role in the movie itself. He starts off as a troubled boy, unsure of who he is and how he’s hurting people with his unhealthy lifestyle. But upon taking a job as a firefighter, he turns his life around for the better and meets extraordinary people along the way. During the Yarnell Hill Fire, he was the lone survivor who was assigned to be the lookout for the massive fire. He narrowly escaped the flames when he was picked up by another hotshot crew. Jesse Steed (James Badge Dale) was the captain of the hotshots, second in command to Marsh. On the day of the Yarnell Hill Fire, he was running the team.

Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges) was responsible for forming the hotshot crew and being the windland division chief for the city of Prescott. He retired one year before the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire.

This movie depicts heroism at its finest. Protagonists don’t physically have to be superheroes in order to achieve the praise they deserve, but rather someone who puts the lives of others first in order to protect them. The Granite Mountain Hotshots ran straight to wildfires and put them out in the most interesting way; just watching their methods gets the audience to realize how wildfires are manually put out by men on the ground rather than a plane. It is definitely a film that should be seen whether it’s now or sometime during a lifetime, because it not only illustrates the lives of brave and innovative men, but it touches upon the value of friendships and brotherhood