Memorial Held For Airmen Killed Fighting Wildfire

Jul 11, 2012

Family, colleagues, and state officials gathered Tuesday to honor the four North Carolina Air National Guard members killed while fighting a wildfire. The memorial service was held at the 145th Airlift Wing's base in Charlotte. Governor Bev Perdue hailed the men as heroes who gave their lives to protect others.

Bev Perdue: We celebrate their great love today for their spouses and their children, for their families and their friends, and for the communities they called home: Boone, Mooresville, Belmont, and Charlotte.

Perdue presented each of the men's families with an American flag that had flown over the state Capitol.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Mikeal was remembered by his friend and colleague Lieutenant Colonel Jim Pearson. He called Mikeal a courageous airman who was dedicated to his children, Amanda and Liam.

Jim Pearson: Liam wanted everyone to know that his dad died doing what he loved - flying airplanes, helping people, and saving lives.

Major Toshio Sameshima described his colleague and friend, Major Ryan David, as fun-loving and friendly. He said David loved the missions on the firefighting aircraft, called MAFFS.

Toshio Sameshima: He posted on his facebook the day he left Charlotte, "It's time to put on the superman cape and head to Colorado for MAFFS." Well Ryan, you're not a superhero. You're an American hero. And there is nothing more prestigious than that.

Major James Bodolosky choked up as he described the man he called his best friend, Major Joseph McCormick.

James Bodolosky: He was the most honorable man that I new. He worked very hard to bring honor to himself, to his family, to his country.

Senior Master Sergeant Robert Cannon was remembered by his friend and colleague First Lieutenant Michael Nix. Nix said Cannon was well-known around the 145th Airlift Wing's base, having been there nearly 30 years.

Michael Nix: Robbie has a character unlike anybody I've ever met in my life. Whenever it's business, it's business. But whenever it's play, it's family.

Two other crew members were injured in the July 1st crash in South Dakota.