Three American firebombers killed trying to keep Australia from burning to the ground have been identified- and one is a US Marine veteran.
First Officer Paul Hudson, who previously served with the USMC, was flying aboard a C-130 firebomber named “Zeus” when the aircraft crashed over New South Wales.
At the time of the crash, the aircraft was under the control of Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Hudson and Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr.
Hudson, who served 20 years in the USMC, was an experienced aviator who knew the C-130 inside and out, having flown the tanker variants for the Corps.
According to the Prescott News, he was 42 at the time of his death.
The crew had arrived in Australia on November 5, and had been working in dangerous conditions, flying up to eight firebomb missions a day.
On their final flight, they were scheduled to only be in the air for two hours, but ended up crashing into the landscape.
US Vice President Mike Pence praised the men and offered his sympathies to the families of the crew.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our Nation will always honor the memory of those lost in the line of duty working to help others.”
It is believed that the C-130, owned by Coulson Aviation, may have been so old and under so much stress that it simply fell apart mid-air.
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