"Well done. Well done our four good and faithful North Carolina servants. We thank you." North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue bids an emotional farewell to four of her state's airmen; Paul Mikael, Joseph McCormick, Ryan David and Robert Cannon died last week when their C-130 crashed near Edgemont, South Dakota.
Those four airmen died during a mission to drop water from a C-130 onto wildfires burning near Edgemont.
All four men were members of the 145th Airlift Wing, based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Today that unit....and the entire state...said their good byes.
All four were 17-hundred miles from home, working to help stop a fire in western South Dakota. But for these four airmen, helping strangers stay safe was not a new mission. In fact, it was their life's work to head into danger if it meant sparing someone else from pain. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue. "They were here at home during our North Carolina hurricanes. They were in Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina and any big natural disaster they required air support, you could count on the 145th being there."
The common thread among these four men who came to South Dakota and died in the line of duty...was love. Love of country, love of family and love for their job. And their best friends...who are in the same line of duty...spoke with affection about the sacrifice these men made....17-hundred miles from home. Lieutenant Colonel Jim Pearson said his friends would not want their lives to be defined by how they died. "There will come a day, I promise you, when a thought of me brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. I pray that day is very soon."
Major James Bodolsky...who said his four friends made everyone around them....better people. "As it says in Proverbs 27:17....as iron sharpens iron...so one man sharpens another."
And Major Toshio Sameshima....who says his friends were shining lights in a dark world....men who worked hard but believed in sharing joy with one another. "There are no bad days, just some day aren't as awesome as others. I will never forget how priceless a laugh and a warm smile is...regardless of the situation."
And following the service, a gathering at the 145th air wing's granite memorial to those who have died in the line of duty and one final tribute from the air wing's chaplain, Sandy Yow, to these four heroes. "These four men, completely dedicated men, gave their lives doing what they loved to do. May God bless you."
Again, the cause of the crash which claimed the lives of the four airmen remains under investigation. The 145th airlift wing had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.
2012 KSFY News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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