To the editor:
On June 26, 2009, Brett Michael Stearns, a wildland firefighter, long-time Craig resident and our son, husband and brother, was killed while clearing hazardous trees in the Freeman Reservoir recreation area.
We want to thank everyone in the community for the outpouring of love and support in this time of loss.
The demonstration of support by Brett's fellow wildland firefighters was especially moving, with so many interagency units bringing their rigs and following in procession as Brett was transported from the funeral to the cemetery.
They provided a "sea of blue" for their fallen comrade that proved what a closely knit and supportive community Brett belonged to. Many thanks also to the local public safety people, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Craig Police Department and Craig Fire/Rescue who provided services.
There is a group who provides for the needs of fallen wildland firefighters and their families on a national level. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation went far beyond the call of duty in helping us deal with the immediate problems after Brett's death, working with the bureaucracy and seeing that the family will be taken care of.
To Burk Minor with the Foundation, thanks for your help and support. Tommy Hayes, engine captain with the Bureau of Land Management Grand Junction Interagency Fire Management Department, you will always have a special place in our hearts.
Special thanks to the U.S. Department of the Interior Honor Guard Unit and the West Jordan Fire Department Honor Guard Unit who seamlessly worked together to provide honors to Brett at the funeral and at the cemetery.
We would like to thank the following individuals and organizations:
• Gov. Bill Ritter for recognizing Brett's sacrifice by asking that all Colorado State flags be flown at half-staff in Brett's honor.
• Mike Stearns' fellow workers at Trapper Mining
• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Wards for meals and food for the family and the after funeral luncheon.
• The Craig Daily Press for its coverage of Brett and the accident.
• Owen Grant at Grant Mortuary for his kindness and professionalism.
• Safeway, which contributed to the firefighters' barbecue.
• Brett's teachers at Colorado Northwestern Community College, especially Mary Karen Solomon.
• The generosity of all who have sent cards, flowers and contributions to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation and the Brett Stearns CNCC college scholarship fund.
• The countless others who helped in this time of need and for which there isn't room to thank.
The loving people in Craig have shown us what a tightly knit and loving community you are, and we are touched, extremely thankful and ask that God bless you for all that you have done for us.
Mike Stearns, Joy Bowen Stearns, Julie and Ken Harris, Cacey and Carol Bowen