Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal and Master Sgt. Robert Cannon were killed Sunday evening when their C-130 crashed while fighting a fire in South Dakota. Family members of the fallen men confirmed their deaths to the Charlotte Observer.
At least two more Air National Guard members were believed to have died in the crash, according to the Observer, but the Air Force has not confirmed this yet.
The entire crew was with North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Mikeal's mother-in-law, Grace Partridge, told the Charlotte Observer he was preparing to celebrate his 20th wedding anniversary with wife Marlo next week. Mikeal's 43rd birthday was also next week. The couple had two children, a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
Partridge said of her daughter's husband:
“I don’t think any woman could have asked for better... He was a very attentive husband, very easy to get along with.”
Remarkably, WBTV-TV in North Carolina shot video of the downed C-130's crew before they left Charlotte to head west for firefighting duty. I've posted the video above.
The military grounded the entire C-130 Modular Airborne Fire-Fighting System fleet in the wake of Sunday's crash, but announced this morning that flights of the aircraft will resume today.