Sean Misner, 26, leaves behind a wife who is seven months pregnant, said Mark Swanitz, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County, CA, where Misner graduated in 2005.
Misner was born in Goleta, California. He played varsity football and also participated in the school's sports medicine program, in which he wrapped sprained ankles and took care of sidelined athletes.
"He was a team player, a real helper," Swanitz told The Associated Press.
In high school, Misner played several positions, including wide receiver and defensive back. He was slim for a high school football player, but that didn't stop him from tackling his opponents, recalled retired football coach Ken Gruendyke. On the football team, he was known as "Mighty Mouse." He was also known as "Spiderman" because of the way the ball would stick to his hands.
"He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said. "He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy on the team, but he played with great emotion and intensity."
He referred to his dad, Ron Misner, as the one who was instrumental in teaching him the proper way to catch a ball. Sean always wanted to play professional football for the Dallas Cowboys being an avid, faithful fan. He then quickly realized his true passion was to be a firefighter like his grandfather, great grandfather, uncles and cousin.
Sean loved to be outdoors, whether it was going to Red Rock River, the ocean, going on hikes, or snowboarding. After graduating in 2005, Sean attended Santa Barbara City College and played for the football team for a short period of time. Sean, being a loyal friend, moved to Wyoming with his best friend Jason Lambert. This only lasted three months because Sean's heart was always in Santa Ynez. Upon returning to the Valley, Sean became an assistant football coach for Dunn School and discovered his love for coaching and passing on his knowledge of the game. Sean also worked at Los Olivos grocery as a produce manager where he met his wife Amanda (Wilkinson) Misner in 2010, knowing he already had plans to move to Auburn, Alabama, again with buddy Jason. Sean and Amanda decided to try to make a long distance relationship work, but this time it wasn't the city of Santa Ynez calling Sean to come home but his love for a girl he had just met. Sean and Amanda's relationship was always on the fast lane.
Sean, being very traditional, asked Amanda's brother and dad for permission to marry her and proposed on April 8, 2012 (his birthday), which he always told her was because it was a gift for both of them. On September 15, 2012, Sean and Amanda were married. After the wedding, Sean moved to Prescott Valley Arizona and worked with Mountain West Aviation as a line tech, while pursuing his dream and passion of becoming a wildland firefighter. On December 2, 2012, Sean's grandfather Herbert Chester McElwee passed away, which left a huge impact and determination on Sean to make sure his dream of being a firefighter came true. On January 1, 2013, Sean found out he was going to be a father for the first time. He couldn't have been more excited and thrilled to be able to teach his soon-to-be son or daughter to play football and baseball. On April 8, 2013, Sean's 26 birthday, he found out that he was going to be having a son.
On April 9, he started his first day with the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He was thrilled to start this new chapter in his life. The night before Sean lost his life he lay next to his son and spoke to him just so that his son could hear his voice, for the fear that his son would not know him, due to being out on fires. Sean spoke highly of all his crew members, saying he trusted every single one of them to have his back even after only knowing them for a short period of time.
Sean was a devoted husband, father-to-be, son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend. Anyone who knew him could count on him to be supportive and helpful in any situation. Sean's smile could light up a room. He became instant friends with the people he would meet.
Family and friends said Sean Michael Misner will be missed more than anything, but "we know our angel in heaven will be watching over his family with his grandpa 'Smokey.'"
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