Firefighters Killed in Australia Crash Were American Military Veterans
Three firefighters piloting a C130 Hercules tanker were killed while fighting the devastating Australia fires in New South Wales. All three were US Military veterans. They were identified as Capt. Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Hudson, and Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr.. Ground crews lost contact with the plane at around 1:45 p.m. local time on Thursday.
“The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need.” US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B Culvahouse JR
It's with heavy hearts that we offer our sincere condolences to the families & friends of 3 American crew members lost in a Large Air Tanker crash in New South Wales. The aircraft was contracted to @NSWRFS via @nafcaus, from Coulson Aviation. #NSWFires #USwithAUS #AustraliaFires https://t.co/TUEWzwmtSt
— National Interagency Fire Center (@NIFCfire) January 23, 2020
The plane went down near a region known as Snowy Monaro in conditions described as “windy.” The plane was operated by Coulson Aviation, that contracts to fight fires all over the world.
“It demonstrates the dangerous work currently being undertaken and it also demonstrates the conditions that our firefighters are working under. There are in excess of 70 aircraft that have been used today alone and today is a stark and horrible reminder of the dangerous conditions that our volunteers, our emergency services personnel across a number of agencies undertake on a daily basis.” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian
The plan took off from Richmond, New South Wales with a load of retardant. It crashed in a remote area, and authorities couldn’t immediately reach the crash site. The plane exploded in a fireball as it impacted the ground, according to the Canberra Times.
US Military Veterans
Coulson Aviation identified the firefighters as Capt. Ian McBeth, 44, from Great Falls, Montana; First Officer Paul Hudson, 42, from Buckeye Arizona, and Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., 43, from Navarre, Florida.
“All three were U.S. military veterans, according to a Coulson statement. McBeth served in both the Montana Air National Guard and the Wyoming Air National Guard; Hudson served in the Marine Corps after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy; and DeMorgan served 18 years in the U.S. Air Force…McBeth is survived by his wife and three children, Hudson by his wife and DeMorgan by two children, the company statement said.”
Coulson Aviation statement is here. It reads in part:
At Coulson Aviation, we have the incredible job of fighting fires around the world and we take pride in this responsibility. Right now, our hearts are with the crew’s family and friends and our Coulson Family suffering in the loss of these three remarkable and well-respected crew-members.
Featured photo via Coulson Aviation: Left, Ian McBeth; Center, Paul Hudson; Right, Rick DeMorgan