- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (AP) - Two federal firefighters from Winnemucca who were killed when their fire truck crashed on the way home from wildfire-spotting patrol near the Idaho line were “battle-born Nevadans” who served their state and country with honor, Gov. Brian Sandoval said at a memorial service Tuesday.

Nevada’s state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, agency employees and state dignitaries joined local residents and family members in honoring Jacob O’Malley, 27, and Will Hawkins, 22, both of rural Winnemucca about 165 miles northeast of Reno on U.S. Interstate 80.

Friends and co-workers said the two were like brothers, known for their sense of humor and concern for others.

Sandoval evoked Nevada’s “Battle Born” state slogan and spoke directly to their families during the memorial at the Winnemucca events center.

“The Nevada family is thankful for Jacob and Will’s service, as we stand with you in honoring these two brave young men,” Sandoval said. “We know their life’s work lives on in the firefighters that are with us today.”

Agency state director John Ruhs said they exemplified what it meant to be U.S. firefighters and should be remembered for their courage, dedication and friendship with their fellow fire crew members, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal (https://tinyurl.com/gpma3ta).

The Nevada Highway Patrol says a tire blow-out apparently caused their Bureau of Land Management fire truck to roll over several times in the fatal crash on July 10 about 40 miles north of Winnemucca.

Several speakers asked for prayers Tuesday for a 23-year-old firefighting colleague, Zachery McElroy of Reno, who remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

The Las Vegas Firefighters 1285 Honor Guard was among those who attended. The Humboldt General Hospital donated a 30-foot by 15-foot American flag that was hung from the top of a ladder on a Winnemucca Fire Department engine.

Lemar Liddell, commander of a Bureau of Land Management honor guard, told The Humboldt Sun the memorial was intended to “honor both the families and the fallen.”

“We’ll do whatever we can, within protocol, to give the families and districts what they need,” he said.

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