William Howard 'Billy' Warneke Yarnell Hill Fire - Tucson News Now

William Howard 'Billy' Warneke

William "Billy" Warneke William "Billy" Warneke
YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

Born in Hemet, CA, William "Billy" Warneke, 25, was an avid outdoorsman from the very beginning and was just 6 years old when he decided he would one day become a firefighter. The middle child of five, Billy grew up camping, hunting and fishing with his brothers Fred and David and sisters, Melinda and Victoria.

After graduating from Hemet High School in 2005, Billy joined the United States Marine Corps when he was just 17 years old. He deployed twice during his four years as a Marine including one tour in Iraq. He served with the Second Battalion Fourth Marines, eventually becoming a Scout Sniper. He left the service in October of 2009.

He then began on the path to achieving his lifelong dream of becoming a member of the Hotshot fire crew. Being the best of the best was all Billy was ever interested in. He attended the Fire Science Academy and graduated Dec. 20, 2010 and joined the Granite Mountain Hotshots in April 2013.

Billy will forever be remembered as a man who always put his needs behind the needs of those around him and lived a life devoted to service to others. When asked to describe Billy, family and friends use words such as selfless, confident, heroic, outgoing, and courageous. He was never one to shy away from adventure and could often be found having fun on a shooting range or off-roading in his Jeep in the hills of Arizona.

Billy married his high school sweetheart Roxanne Lopez in December 2008 and the two made a life together in Tucson. Their first child will be born in December.

In addition to his wife and his brothers and sisters, Billy is survived by his mother, Kathie Purkey of Homeland, CA, his father Harry Warneke of Hemet, CA, and his grandparents, Jack and Nancy Warneke of San Jacinto, CA.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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