Veterans and firefighters

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest military veteran firefighters (from left) Ted Hurtado, Jorge Hernandez, Luke Brannon, David Slack and Oscar Castaneda.

SPRINGERVILLE — Only 7.3 percent of all Americans have served in the U.S. military and wildland firefighting has become a popular career with many veterans. Many veterans have expressed how wildland firefighting experience has been an eye-opener for them, leading to career opportunities. Several serve here on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

George Hruby served nine years in the U.S Marine Corps and has been with the Forest Service for six years. Hruby helps fellow veterans get hired into the Forest Service through the Veterans Recruitment Appointment program.

Tedd Hurtado, former U.S. Army served five years in the Artillery. Hurtado had former knowledge of wildland firefighting from his family before becoming a firefighter. He started his career with the Forests Service in 2016. He thrives on the wildland firefighting culture and the rewards it provides.

Oscar Castaneda former U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard served eight years in the Infantry. Castaneda enjoys the outdoors, loves the responsibility and the dynamic work environment.

David Slack also former U.S. Army served seven years in the Infantry. Slack was selected for the Veterans Wildland Firefighting Corp and hired in 2018 with the Forest Service.

Jorge Hernandez former U.S. Navy served five years as an Aviation Structural Mechanic. Hernandez also had prior exposure to the wildland culture through family and friends who worked for the Forest Service. He loves working in the outdoors and doing fire suppression.

Luke Brannon, formerly of the U.S. Air Force served five-plus years as a Senior Orbital Analyst. When he came out of the military, a friend recommended wildland firefighting. Brannon considered it, joined wildland firefighting, and fell in love with it. What he loves most about this job is his office is in the forest. The veterans have done multiple tours overseas, and some have done stateside deployments.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are grateful for these veterans and others who now serve managing and protecting our National Forests. Please take time to thank all veterans who have served our country and these amazing veterans who continue “caring for the land and serving the people.”

(3) comments


There are many other veterans working for the US Forest Service whom we’re not mentioned. You would think if an article were being done on such a topic, the writer would want most, if not all veterans performing this great service. I, for one, have over 21 years working for the Forest Service, & I am a veteran of the first gulf war. I know of many other veterans who feel as through they were not represented by this article. We are appreciative of their service, but being a full time employee & a veteran who was forgotten, yet again, is not something to be proud of.


Wow. PLEASE tell me you think that the authors could have possibly fit EVERY Veterans story into this brief 1 page article. JUST BECAUSE YOU are not mentioned doesn't mean your not represented. Its simply a snapshot of SOME OF THE VETERANS who have served right? Why don't you publish an article about your meritorious service and see who publishes it. Probably no one.


At least I about you NOTchill1? Yeah, the author could have covered others, especially those who have several years of service. It’s not specifically about ME being mentioned, but about recognizing all vets who served, so you could have the opportunity to voice your opinion on this article.

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