Local News

Four killed in Charlotte C-130 crash in South Dakota

Posted July 3, 2012

— Four members of the North Carolina Air National Guard were killed when their firefighting plane crashed Sunday night while battling a wildfire in South Dakota, officials said Tuesday.

The Charlotte-based 145th Airlift Wing deployed three C-130 Hercules planes and about three dozen guardsmen to Colorado on Saturday to help with wildfire control efforts.

One of the planes crashed in the southwest corner of South Dakota while spraying fire retardant on the White Draw Fire in the Black Hills region of the state.

Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, 42, of Mooresville, Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36, of Belmont, Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, of Boone, and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon, 50, of Charlotte, were killed in the crash.

Two other crew members were seriously injured, but the National Guard declined to identify them.

"Words can't express how much we feel the loss of these Airmen," said Brig. Gen. Tony McMillan, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing. "Our prayers are with their families, as well as our injured brothers as they recover."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a spokesman for the National Guard, said the crash marked the first time a firefighting plane had crashed in the 40 years C-130s have been outfitted to assist with battling wildfires.

Carver said the other two C-130s from the 145th Airlift Wing are returning to North Carolina, but he couldn't say when they would be back.

Immediately after the crash, officials grounded those planes and six others from the Wyoming Air National Guard, the California Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing based in Colorado. The planes were allowed to resume aerial firefighting operations on Tuesday.

Mikeal was assigned to the 156th Airlift Squadron as an evaluator pilot and had more than 20 years of service. He is survived by a wife and two children. McCormick was an instructor pilot and chief of training for the squadron. He is survived by a wife and four children.

David was an experienced navigator and was also assigned to the squadron after serving in the Air Force. He is survived by a wife and one child. Cannon had more than 29 years with the Charlotte unit and was a flight engineer with the 145th Operations Support Flight. He is survived by a wife and two children.

Gov. Beverly Perdue ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff until sunset Tuesday in honor of the C-130 crew.


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  • csmith8116 Jul 3, 2012

    It is in times as these that the public gets to see how connected National Guardsman / Air Guardmans are to their families, community, State, and Nation. Not to say that their active duty counterparts are not worthy, this tradegy shows the level of commentment Guardsmen make: They save the day in combat when the Nation calls, multiple times; They help neighbors clear storm debris, fly in supplies, provide security for communities during State natural disasters; and they are part of the community, churches, schools, American Legion, families, etc. Guardsman are special souls and the good that comes out of this tradegy maybe two-fold: Investment in a new air fleet of C-130s and proof that Citizen Soldiers are awesome!

  • Navace Jul 3, 2012

    High Flight

    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
    I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue, I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew - And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untresspassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

    RIP fellow avaiators...

  • boneymaroney13 Jul 3, 2012

    Neither do the parents of these men.

  • are you kidding me Jul 3, 2012

    just sad...children do not deserve this

  • mfarmer1 Jul 3, 2012

    This Is So Sad, Not That It Means Much To There Kids Now Without There Parent. They Can Look Back At This One Day And Say There Parent Gave There Life To Save Others.

  • mcorson2 Jul 3, 2012

    Eth82- You Tell it! we will all face the big man one day and like you said, we will pay for out actions and words.

  • Eth82 Jul 3, 2012

    I must correct you...prayers are very useful. Tragic things happen...we all will die one day but its wonderful to know that when the prayers of the Saints reach Heavens throne for the mourning loved ones thats when God sends down His Mercy, Comfort, Love and Grace. I feel sorry for you that you don't know of his Love and Grace but you will meet Him one day...we all will and we will be held accountable for every idle and foolish word that we speak just as you have just done.

  • mrsmullsie Jul 3, 2012

    Monca, these children will be taken care of, we will ensure that. We are mourning the loss of our loved ones and your nasty diatribe during this time. So please, if it is not in you to pray, then merely keep the families, friends, and other loved ones of these men in your thoughts as we try to make sense of this tragedy and come to peace with our loss.

  • wolf80 Jul 3, 2012

    Simply put, HEROS

  • HopingForABetterWorld Jul 3, 2012

    Wow Monca...someone offers very kind thoughts to families in morning, and you go on that rant. Perhaps you need to take a step back and reevaluate something.