News: National Guard mourns loss of four airmen
By Army National Guard Sgt. Darron Salzer
and Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Carver
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. - The 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard is mourning the loss of four Air National Guard airmen, and the serious injury of two others, after their C-130 Hercules crashed in southwestern South Dakota approximately 6:30 p.m. Mountain time, July 1.
“We are deeply saddened that four of our outstanding airmen lost their lives while battling wildfires over the weekend in South Dakota,” said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the family members and friends of those who were lost, and we wish a speedy and full recovery of those who survived this tragic event.”
The aircraft - equipped with a U.S. Forest Service-owned Modular Airborne Firefighting System - was assisting with the White Draw wildfire near the town of Edgemont, S.D., when it crashed. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
The men who lost their lives are Air Force Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, a pilot from Mooresville, N.C. with the 145th AW; Air Force Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, pilot from Belmont, N.C.; Air Force Maj. Ryan S. David, a flight navigator from Boone, N.C.; and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon, a flight engineer from Charlotte, N.C.
“Words can not express how much we feel the loss of these airmen,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Tony McMillan, the 145th AW commander. “Our prayers are with the families, as well as our injured brothers as they recover.”
In a statement July 2, President Barack Obama said he knows that Americans across the country share in his concern for the well being of the surviving crewmembers and deep condolences for the families of those who lost their lives.
“They are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation,” Obama said.
Mikeal was assigned to the 156th Airlift Squadron as an evaluator pilot and had more than 20 years of service. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
McCormick was an instructor pilot and chief of training for the 156th Airlift Squadron. He was married with four children.
David was an experienced navigator and was also assigned to the 156th. He joined the North Carolina Air National Guard in 2011 after prior service in the active-duty U.S. Air Force. His wife and one child survive him.
Cannon had more than 29 years with the 145th AW and was a flight engineer with the 145th Operations Support Flight. He was married with two children.
The names of the injured have not been released. Both of the injured airmen remain hospitalized.
The crew and its aircraft, along with two other 145th C-130s and three dozen airmen, flew from Charlotte, N.C. to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 30 to assist with fighting forest fires in the Rocky Mountain region. They were due to move to a base in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Monday.
"The support of civil authorities during natural disasters is a key and unique mission of the National Guard," said Army Maj. Gen. Gregory Lusk, the adjutant general of North Carolina National Guard "The MAFFS mission is probably one of the seminal missions of the Air National Guard, representing interagency coordination between the Guard and the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense organizations to suppress the fires."
According to Forest Service records, the agency has been working with the North Carolina Air National Guard on fire suppression missions since the early 1970s.
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue declared that flags be flown at half-staff today.
Date Posted:07.03.2012 17:18
Location:ARLINGTON, VA, US
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