Cedar City Mom Searching for Stolen Hotshots Memorial Flag Given to Honor Her Son

Jul 8, 2019, 9:16 PM | Updated: 11:20 pm

Cedar City, Utah – A Cedar City woman is making a desperate plea to the community to keep an eye out for a cherished item she says was stolen. It’s not anything expensive – but something extremely sentimental.

At the Ekker house in Cedar City, this time of year is always tough.

“He loved what he was doing and he loved the people,” said Gayemarie Ekker of her late son.

“We lost the boys on the 30th of June,” Ekker said.

The ‘boys’ she is referring to are the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew out of Prescott, Arizona. On that day in 2013, 19 wildland firefighters lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill fire including Ekker’s son, Joe Thurston.

“Joe loved being a firefighter,” she said. “His nickname with the crew was ‘Utah,’” she said.

The families of those lost received hot shot flags at the cemetery to remember their loved ones. Each year, from the 25th of June to 7th of July, they proudly display them.

“I don’t think people really understand about wildland firefighters,” she said. “They run towards danger when everyone else runs away.”

Sometime on Saturday July 6th, the flag went missing.

“That flag represents so much,” she said through tears.

Following the loss of the flag, Ekker put out a box with a sign asking for its safe return.

“Somebody stole the cinder block out of the box and that was the final blow,” she said.

Her heart still aches for her son every day.

“Every morning I run out to see if someone might have put (the flag) back,” she said. “I hope somebody will know somebody and the flag will come home.”

She knows her son will never come home, but she’s holding onto hope the symbol representing his sacrifice will.

“I can’t believe my Cedar City has a person in this community that I love so dearly that would break my heart,” she said.

If you have any information about the flag you’re asked to contact the Cedar City police department.


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

SportClips in Sugar House reopens after massive apartment fire

SportClips in Sugar House reopened for business Tuesday, 33 days after they were forced to close due to a massive fire that broke out at an under-construction apartment complex.
1 day ago
Charges against Linda Tracy Gillman were dismissed after the state was not ready to move forward wi...
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Charges dropped for 75-year-old woman accused of hiring hit man

Linda Tracy Gillman is already in prison after being convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband and was scheduled to be on trial for attempting to hire another person, to eliminate evidence and a witness in that case.
1 day ago
Jed Boal

Plow drivers needed, but UDOT says the storm itself was the source of delay

Was it staffing issues or the storm itself at the source of traffic troubles Monday night and Tuesday morning across the Wasatch Front?
1 day ago
Tamara Vaifanua

Festival of Trees showcases 11-year-old who persevered against the odds

Patient Champion of the Festival of the Trees celebrates an 11-year-old girl who lost her leg in an accident six years ago and is now defying the odds.
1 day ago
Beaver Mountain ready...
Mike Anderson

Cache Valley resorts cashing in on early start dates

Ski resorts in Cache Valley planned for some of their earliest start dates in about a decade thanks to our recent storms.
1 day ago
(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Dispatchers get accidental 911 calls from skiers because of iPhone crash technology

Summit County dispatchers are seeing an uptick in accidental emergency calls from skiers. The new crash technology on iPhones is designed to detect severe car crashes, but it's often accidentally activated at ski resorts.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Cedar City Mom Searching for Stolen Hotshots Memorial Flag Given to Honor Her Son