William H. Warneke- Granite Mountain Hotshot

Photo courtesy of Roxanne Preston

William Howard Warneke

  • Prescott Fire Department – Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots
  • Firefighter- EMT B
  • Age: 26
  • Year of Death: 2013

William Howard Warneke, “Billy,” as he was called by family and friends, was an avid outdoorsman. He was born in Hemet, California, on August 13, 1987, to Kathie Holland and Harry Warneke. He was raised in the country and was instilled with the morals of country living—love for country, integrity, honesty, and pride in one’s work. He lived each day with courage.

Billy Warneke in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Warneke

His courageous spirit led him to enlist in the United States Marine Corps when he was 17 and to serve a combat tour in Iraq. After honorably serving in the United States Marine Corps, he attended Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, where he earned his EMT-B, graduated from the college’s fire academy, took additional courses at the Arizona Wildfire Academy, became a National Registered EMT, and earned a degree in fire science with a 3.55 GPA.

Photo courtesy of Roxanne Warneke.

When he was not working, he was learning something new. He frequently purchased books to read about his favorite topics: military history, reloading ammunition, construction, carpentry, landscaping, animal husbandry, archery, hunting, and wildlife. At the first opportunity he had he would apply his new knowledge into his life, whether it was building a chicken coop or fixing a broken something around the house.

Billy would always lend a helping hand without expecting a reward. He was always the gentleman, opening doors and pulling out chairs. He would help a child with their homework or help them to overcome their fears through patience, understanding, and tutelage. The children in the neighborhood where he and his wife lived knew that Billy would always help them out if they had a fundraiser. Billy would buy items from their catalogs and take all of the vehicles to their carwashes.

Billy loved to laugh and to play pranks on his wife or siblings. He was easygoing and quick to smile. He viewed everyday casually and as another day for adventure. A few days a week he would enjoy the things he loved doing—hunting, fishing, and mountaineering.

Billy and Roxanne Warneke on deep sea fishing trip in 2011. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Warneke

Billy possessed honor, high morals, and unwavering loyalty. He always strived to be the best in everything that he did, which led him to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. He believed that Granite Mountain IHC was a hotshot crew that deserved his admiration and respect. He made a commitment to himself that he would earn a coveted position in their ranks, which he fulfilled.

Billy is survived by his wife, Roxanne, and his daughter, Billie Grace.

Mission: Wildland Firefighter safety is of the utmost importance to our organization. We will champion firefighter safety through independent investigations, education, and real life support for firefighters, families, and the fire community. Truth-Transparency-Accountability- Change, the future for wildland firefighter safety is now.