Memorial dedicated for the crew members that died on MAFFS 7

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

A memorial site was dedicated today to honor the four people that died when the Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 air tanker crashed in South Dakota exactly a year ago. MAFFS 7, from the 145 Airlift Wing in North Carolina, was dropping retardant to slow the spread of the White Draw Fire when it encountered turbulent air and crashed, killing Lt. Col Paul K. Mikeal, 42; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36; Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, and Senior Master Sgt. Roberts S. Cannon, 50. Two crew members survived, Chief Master Sgt. Andy Huneycutt, and Master Sgt. Joshua Marlowe.

Family members had the opportunity Sunday to travel to the crash site about eight miles northeast of Edgemont, South Dakota. The new memorial is approximately 6 miles northeast of Edgemont on Highway 18 near the point of origin of the fire (map) where the motor home that started the blaze caught fire while pulling the grade between Edgemont and Hot Springs. The memorial consists of a gravel parking area with room for about six vehicles and it has two interpretive panels — one describing the White Draw Fire and the other covers the accident and the four victims.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

The speakers at the dedication included: (left to right) Lt. Governor Matt Michels (at the podium); Lt. Col Dale Gadbois; Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest; Jajor General Timothy Reisch, S.D. Adjutant General; Major General Gregory Lusk, N.C. Adjutant General, and Mike Ortner, Chairman, Fall River County Commission.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

The family members were sitting in the front row and received copies of proclamations and other items.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

At the beginning and end of his presentation, Lt. Governor Matt Michels turned around and saluted in the direction of the crash site.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication MAFFS 7 memorial dedication MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

Members of the Hot Springs Fire Department left flowers at the site.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication MAFFS 7 memorial dedication


All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.

More information about the cause of the crash.
Photos of the White Draw and other fires in the Black Hills in 2012.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

3 thoughts on “Memorial dedicated for the crew members that died on MAFFS 7

  1. wondering where tom harbor and tom Tidwell were when this was going on

    hmmmmmm..using USAF and USAFRes resources for the LMA mission, huh??

    Pretty disrespectful in my retired military mind.

    Do not ever want hear the words respect come from those two individuals when they did not have the cajones to show their respect to this crew…pretty shameful and showing real lack of leadership

    Nuff said!!

    • Why the negativity? Have you considered the fact that maybe they were invited but could not because of other duties and responsibilities? As a military man you should know that senior leaders are not afforded the luxury to be at every event that occurs within their area of responsibility.

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