GUARDSMEN KILLED IN SD AIR TANKER CRASH REMEMBERED, PRAISED

Posted 10 months ago

By John Axtell

photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal

photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal

More than 200 family, friends and colleagues gathered in the southern Black Hills near Edgemont, SD, yesterday to dedicate a memorial honoring 4 North Carolina Air National Guardsmen who died a year ago when their air tanker crashed while fighting a wildfire.

The interpretive site sits on a ridge top about 7 miles northeast of the town and about 2 miles from the crash site. It honors six airmen – the 4 who died and the 2 who survived when their C-130, converted into a firefighting air tanker, was slammed into the ground by winds from a thunderstorm while making a drop on the White Draw Fire last July 1st.

Killed were 42-year-old Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, of Mooresville, N.C.; 36-year-old Maj. Joseph McCormick, of Belmont; 35-year-old Maj. Ryan David, of Boone; and 50-year-old Senior Master Sgt. Robert Cannon, of Charlotte. 18 family members sat together in silence in the front row during the approximately 45-minute ceremony.

South Dakota Lt. Gov. Matt Michels was among those who attended the invitation-only event. He expressed gratitude to the families for the sacrifice of the airmen, saying “it  is impossible for any words to pass my lips that can express our incredible gratitude for the sacrifices that not only these men have made, but you have made.”