Andrew Ashcraft, 29, center, with his wife, Juliann, and his four children.
(USA Today)-- The wife of one of the 19 firefighters who died in a raging fire Sunday says she wants the world to know the men were "heroes."
Juliann Ashcraft, a mother of four, is the widow of Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft. She appeared on national television Tuesday on NBC's Today and CBS This Morning.
"I would find the tallest mountain and shout how great they are," Ashcraft told CBS. "That's what I want people to know: They are heroes, that they are loved, that they will be missed and that they're still going to live on in our lives and the lives of our kids."
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She says she never really worried for the safety of the firefighters because of how well they were trained - "the best of the best," she called the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots crew.
Everything changed when authorities showed up at her door to tell her that her husband was one of those killed in the fire.
"You know, there's moments where I think of him and I smile because I love him so much, and I feel guilty for smiling cause I'm still in this shock," Ashcraft said on CBS. "All the while, you know, I have these precious babies that I just want to give anything to have a mother and father tuck them in."
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Ashcraft has a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old.
"I don't think that my daughter knows her dad's not going to walk her down the aisle, or that my sons know that he won't be their coach, and those sorts of things - I don't know if that's sunk in for them," Ashcraft said. "But I have not stopped thinking about that. I have told them every chance I've gotten since then, you know, 'Your dad loves you, and he's with you,' and they just call him their angel and said they'll see him in heaven.
"He saved a lot of homes that people do go home to, but he'll never come home to ours," she said, choking up.
On the Today show, Ashcraft shared with Savannah Guthrie a series of text messages she had with her husband the morning before he died.
"He just let us know that he loved us, that he missed us already," Ashcraft said with teary eyes. "Which was a common thing for him to do when he would go in a fire. Because of the dangers of the job ... he always would tell us he loved us."
The couple exchanged pictures throughout the day. Juliann sent a photo of the kids swimming, and in reply, Andrew sent a photo of where he was sitting and what the fire looked like from where he was.
"He got back to me after he got our pictures and just said 'I wish I was in a swimming pool,'" Ashcraft recalls.
"I told him through our text messages that our daughter had been saying, when she was watching the thunderstorm, she said, 'Mommy, Daddy really needs to see this,'" Ashcraft recalls. "He said, 'I really wish I could see it, we could sure use some rain over here,' and that was the last I heard from him."