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.
All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.