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Minnesota National Guard
Military identifies 4 killed in crash of firefighting plane

By Michael Muskal
July 3, 2012, 1:11 pm

Flags flew at half staff at buildings in North Carolina on Tuesday as the state mourned four airmen killed in a weekend crash while fighting fires in South Dakota

Military officials identified the four dead on Tuesday afternoon Two other members of the crew of the C-130 that went down fighting the White Draw fire remain hospitalized, officials said

"Words can't express how much we feel the loss of these airmen,"  Brig Gen Tony McMillan, 145th Airlift Wing Commander, said in a prepared statement "Our prayers are with their families, as well as our injured brothers as they recover" The crew and the plane are part of the North Carolina Air National Guard unit based in Charlotte

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The dead were identified as Lt. Col. Paul K Mikeal,  42, of Mooresville, NC; Maj Joseph M McCormick, 36, of Belmont, NC; Maj Ryan S David, 35, of Boone, NC; and Senior Master Sgt Robert S Cannon, 50, of Charlotte

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 previous service in the active-duty  US Air Force He is survived by his 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 was married with two children

Officials said the crew, its craft and two other C-130s from the 145th and about three dozen airmen flew from Charlotte, NC, to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo, on Saturday to assist with firefighting efforts in the West The crash occurred around 6:30 pm near Edgemont, SD, as the crew assisted with battling the White Draw fire

The cause of the crash is unknown and is under investigation, officials said

The craft was equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, also known as MAFFS The system is designed to drop 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide
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