Family, friends remember four airmen killed in Black Hills plane crash
Family and friends remembered the four North Carolina Air National Guard Airmen killed in a plane crash in the Black Hills today as not only dedicated soldiers but family men tightly woven into their communities.
The men died on July 1 when their C-130 plane crashed while fighting the White Draw Fire.
A memorial service was held in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday morning for only the airmen's families, invited guests and members of the 145th Airlift Wing out of Charlotte.
The memorial started with a reading of the names of the four men who died as a black curtain was pulled from the portraits of Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal, Maj. Joseph McCormick, Maj. Ryan S. David, and Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue spoke first to honor the four airmen. Gov. Perdue said the men were not only dedicated soldiers but they were all devoted family men. She said the men "did it all" by balancing time between their careers, families and the Guard.
"They did it quite simply for their families, but they also did it for you and for me and for this state and this country," Perdue said.
Gov. Perdue noted there are 1,500 crew members in the 145th Airlift Wing and she referred to the Wing as a hurting family. She said while this 1,500-member family is hurting they should enjoy the memories of their fallen members. Perdue urged the community of Charlotte to take time and share stories to remember and honor the four men who lost their lives.
"Words are just simply weak and they do very little to ease any of the anguish that we feel," Perdue said.
Next, fellow airmen and friends went to the lectern to remember each of the fallen soldiers. Lt. Col. Paul K Mikeal was noted for his superb excellence as an aviator and family man. Maj. Joeseph McCormick was remembered as the most honorable man his best friend ever knew. Maj. Ryan S. David was honored for the way he lived life with optimism and also for his contagious laugh. Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon was remembered for his outstanding character and love for his family.
Chaplain Trendce Hudson of the 145th Airlift Wing said while many know about the crash, millions would never consider what the victims did. Hudson said he felt humbled to be among the "special people" of the 145th. Chaplain Hudson said it is times like these that test a soldier more than anything.
"This tests your steel more than anything. This reaches deep within your gut and makes you quantify everything you do when you put on your uniform," Chaplain Hudson said.
Hudson said he is impressed by the way members of the community have supported each other. He said people have come together through dinners, cards, hugs and prayer. He said while it seems tough now, the community will shield itself from the pain.
"Some of you have not slept since last Sunday night. You just can't seem to close your eyes. You toss, you turn. You miss that warm body that was beside you. But God will give you peace," Hudson said.
Tuesday's service was held at the National Guard base in Charlotte. A stone memorial was set outside the hangar on the base to honor the four airmen who were killed in the crash.
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