NC Plane Crashes While Fighting South Dakota Wildfire

9:14 PM, Jul 2, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Two Dead After NC Air Nat'l Guard Plane Crashes

  • A C-130 Hercules from the 145th Airlift Wing prepares to depart Charlotte-Douglas Intl Airport for Colorado. Courtesy WBTV.
  • C-130 Leaving Charlotte Douglas Airport on Saturday, WBTV
  • Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, N.C. Air National Guard. Courtesy WBTV.
  • NC Air National Guard Crew, WBTV

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An Air National Guard cargo plane based out of North Carolina has crashed while fighting wildfires in South Dakota.

According to family members, Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal and Master Sgt. Robert Cannon were killed after the C-130 Hercules crashed Sunday night.

Lt. Col. Rose Dunlap of the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte confirmed Monday that six crew members were aboard the C-130.

At an earlier briefing in Colorado, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jerri Marr said the agency's thoughts went out to the families of those lost in the crash of the C-130.

The plane went down about 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the southwest corner of South Dakota, where it had been dropping flame retardant on the 6-square-mile White Draw Fire. The cause of the crash is not known and the incident is under investigation.

President Obama's statement on the crash: Yesterday, a military C-130 from the North Carolina Air National Guard crashed while supporting firefighting efforts in South Dakota. The full details are still under investigation, but the crew of this flight - along with their families and loved ones - are in our thoughts and prayers. The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans. The airmen who attack these fires from above repeatedly confront dangerous conditions in an effort to give firefighters on the ground a chance to contain these wildfires - to save homes, businesses, schools, and entire communities. They are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation. I know Americans across the country share my concern for the well-being of the surviving members of the crew and my deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. And I know that Americans join me in expressing my deepest gratitude for the selfless determination they and thousands of men and women involved in this fight in states across the country demonstrate every day.

NC Gov. Bev Perdue: "I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the North Carolina National Guardsmen who lost their lives last night fighting wildfires in South Dakota, and our prayers are with those who were injured.

This tragic loss underscores the risks and sacrifices our servicemen and women make on a daily basis. Whether home or abroad, they leave their families to keep us safe and protect our freedom.

Every North Carolinian should be proud of and humbled by these patriotic Americans' willingness to put themselves in harms way every day."

Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC): "My heart goes out to the families of the crew members who died in this tragic crash. These airmen gave their lives fighting the devastating wildfires that are threatening the lives and homes of countless Americans; they define what it is to be a hero. My thoughts and prayers are also with the airmen who were injured during this crash. The bravery of these airmen will not be forgotten."

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC): "I was terribly saddened to learn of the C-130 plane crash in South Dakota belonging to North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims who died in the crash and to those who are still fighting for their lives."

UPDATE: The Air National Guard released the names of two other airmen killed in the plane crash. Those names are Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont, NC and Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone, NC.




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