By Kevin Wilson
CNJ STAFF WRITER
The mountains of Prescott, Ariz., mean plenty to Mikala Gray and her son, Landon Davis.
Landon was born in Prescott and learned to walk in those mountains, and when Gray was a young girl traveling cross-country with the family, she would ask family members to wake her up on the car ride so she could see her mountains.
Following the deaths of 19 firefighters from Prescott’s Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew in the ongoing Arizona blaze, Gray got a reminder that Landon feels the same way.
Landon had always wanted to be a firefighter, and received a handout fire hat from the department when he was 3 years old. On Wednesday morning Landon, now 8, surprised his mother first by still having the hat in perfect condition five years later, then by asking if he could hang it up with a U.S. flag as a memorial to them.
“They died protecting those mountains so I could come home to them,” Landon told his mother.
The memorial included the flag, the hat and a fire truck with one man to signify the one person in the 20-man crew that survived.
“I set it up to honor the firefighters that died in the wildfire,” Landon said. “I didn’t know what else to do, so I put that up.”
Hearing about their deaths, Gray said, did nothing to dissuade Lanny, as she sometimes calls him, from want to become a firefighter himself when he grows up.
Gray said it’s important to honor the sacrifices of the firemen but to also remember there are 500 firefighters just like them still fighting the blaze that is affecting many families. She recommends donating to an account set up for the firefighters at Compass Bank in Prescott or in general to reputable organizations like the Red Cross.