Three U.S. Firefighters Killed In Australia Plane Crash ‘Heroically’ Served Our Country

Three American firefighters who were killed in a plane crash while trying to combat bushfires afflicting the continent of Australia were also decorated U.S. service members and are being remembered as such.

The group was attempting to put out fires by dropping flame retardant over the Snowy Monaro Area in southern New South Wales, Australia on their Coulson Aviation-owned Lockheed C-130 Hercules air tanker when their aircraft lost contact with flight operators.

The deceased crew and their large air tanker were found after crews including the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the largest volunteer firefighter service in the world, conducted a helicopter sweep of the area.

The three men were decorated veterans, who had extensive experience operating C-130s. Captain Ian H. McBeth, 44, of Great Falls, MT was one of the three firefighters killed. He leaves behind a wife, three children, both of his parents, and three siblings. He served in the Wyoming Air National Guard and was still serving the Montana Air National Guard.

“Decorated U.S. service members”

Our deepest condolences are with the family and friends of our fallen heroes.

Posted by Coulson Aviation – Next Gen Firefighting on Thursday, January 23, 2020


First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, leaves behind his wife. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served twenty years in the U.S. Marine Corp, where he piloted C-130s. He retired as a decorated Lt. Colonel.

Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., 43,  is survived by his parents, two children, and a sister. He served in the United States Air Force, where he spent eighteen years as a Flight Engineer on the C-130. He was experienced and accumulated 4,000 hours as a Flight Engineer, 2,000 hours of which were in a combat.

U.S. Politicians React

“Arizona is heartbroken by this news. First Officer Paul Hudson was a hero who dedicated his life to service, first as a Marine, then as a firefighter. And when help was needed to fight wildfires in Australia, he didn’t hesitate. Arizona’s prayers go out to him & his family #RIP” Arizona Governor Doug Ducey wrote on Twitter late Thursday. In a later tweet, the Governor ordered that flags “across the state be lowered to half-staff.”

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of the crew from Tanker 134 that were lost during a tragic crash while battling the devastating Australia fires. CAL FIRE stands with you during this difficult time,” said CAL FIRE Chief Porter.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the air tanker crash in Australia that claimed the lives of 3 heroic American firefighters. We extend our sincerest condolences to the friends and families of the crew, and our own Cal Fire family who worked and trained the crew of Tanker 134,” California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote in a statement on Twitter late Thursday.

“Karen & I send our prayers & deep condolences to the families of the 3 brave American firefighters who died in AUS yesterday while on their way to battle the terrible bushfires. Our Nation will always honor the memory of those lost in the line of duty working to help others,” said Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter Thursday.

“Our deepest condolences to the families of the American firefighters who perished standing with Australia to fight their devastating nationwide wildfires. These heroes exemplified the great American tradition of standing with our partners and allies,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter Friday.