Known as "Turby" among crew members, Travis Turbyfill, 27, got a full-time position with the Hotshots when another member's girlfriend asked him to quit.
Turbyfill often worked with other Hotshots at Captain Crossfit, a warehouse filled with mats, obstacle courses, climbing walls and acrobatic rings near the firehouse. He would train in the morning and then return in the afternoon with his wife and kids. Trainer Janine Pereira said she recently kidded Turbyfill for skipping workouts. His excuse was that he wanted to spend some quality time at Dairy Queen.
"He was telling me that it's because it was Blizzard week, and he was just going to eat a Blizzard every night," she said. Tony Burris, another trainer, said he enjoyed watching Turbyfill with his two daughters. "Because he's this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish, blonde curly hair, and they just loved their dad," he said.
Travis was born and grew up in beautiful Prescott, Arizona. As a child he lived in Groom Creek, where his love for the outdoors began. He lived next door to his grandparents and spoke of hunting and fishing with his grandpa on a daily basis from the time he was 3-years-old. Travis was an only child but began developing friendships at a young age that would last a lifetime. He graduated from Prescott High School in 2004. He fulfilled a lifelong dream when he began his career as a wildland firefighter in 2005. Travis served in the United States Marine Corps from 2007 to 2010. He then resumed his career as a firefighter in 2011 with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a crew of men who were not just coworkers but friends and brothers.
Travis' wife describes her husband as the love of her life, her best friend and her soul mate.
"Travis and I went on our first date on July 22, 2007. He told me just days before he passed away that he fell in love with me that night. I admitted that it took me a little longer which he of course laughed at. We were married on Aug. 1, 2009, with our best friends at our sides and immediate family surrounding us standing on the red rocks of Sedona, AZ. He was the love of my life, my best friend, and my soul mate. We loved spending time together, talking, and making each other laugh. We shared a tremendous pride in our two little girls. I loved our life together.
"On July 19, 2010, Travis became a daddy for the first time. He held our sweet baby girl, Brooklyn Elizabeth, now 2 and half years old, in his arms so tight. Tears streamed down his face all day long, a side of Travis I had never seen before. On Jan. 10, 2012, we had our second baby girl, Brynley Elizabeth, now one and a half years old. He fell in love all over again. Travis was a hands-on dad. He changed diapers, painted toenails, and played with the girls non-stop. Every time I turned around someone was hanging upside down or flying through the air. Last summer, while Travis was away on a fire, I was having a hard time getting the girls to sleep. Travis told me to put my phone on speaker and he read one of their favorite books, "Good Night Moon," to them over the phone. At the time I thought he had it memorized, but he later told me that he had picked up a small version of it at a gas station to keep in the hotshot buggy, equally adorable. Our older daughter, Brooklyn, said to my mom yesterday, "Daddy was my best boy ever." The girls love and adore him beyond words.
"Travis had a heart of gold and wore it on his sleeve. There was never a question about how he felt about anything or anyone. If he thought it, he said it. Of course this got him into trouble many times, but for me and our girls and our family and friends it was wonderful. Not a day went by that we didn't know how much he loved us, cared for us, and appreciated us. He thought he was the luckiest person in the world, but I know we were the lucky ones.
"There is so much I can say about Travis. He was a strong man, a natural leader, a great firefighter. He loved what he did and did it well. He had an absolutely amazing talent for engineering, welding, and metal fabrication. He hoped to someday soon have his own side business using these skills. He also loved guns, shooting, hunting, hiking, camping… the list goes on and on. He just loved life to its fullest.
"On June 30, 2013, I had not seen or heard from Travis since he left for work early that morning. I had heard from a close friend and fellow hotshot wife that they had been called to the Yarnell Hill fire and I knew they were hard at work. That evening I had overwhelming feelings of missing Travis, loving Travis, and being loved by him. I now know this was the time he was leaving this earth and this life and being carried by angels to "dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalms 23:6) with his Heavenly Father. Travis deserved perfection and knowing that is what he has right now brings me peace."
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