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UPDATE: 11:13 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 - The bodies of three Americans who died when a water-bombing plane crashed while battling Australia’s unprecedented wildfire crisis have been retrieved as their families arrive in Sydney.
The firefighters died when their C-130 Hercules tanker crashed on Thursday after dumping fire retardant on an out-of-control blaze northeast of the town of Cooma in southern New South Wales state.
A police statement says their bodies were retrieved from a still-active fire zone. They were taken to Sydney.
Their relatives who began arriving Saturday will be offered an opportunity to visit the hillside crash site.
UPDATE: 6:47 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 - The firefighters killed in Australia were from Montana, Arizona and Florida.
Coulson Aviation says 44-year-old Captain Ian H. McBeth of Montana leaves behind his wife, three kids, parents and three siblings.
McBeth spent his whole career flying C-130's and was a highly qualified and respected pilot who loved his family, according to Coulson Aviation. They also shared in 2018 he earned his initial attack qualification.
In addition to serving with Coulson Aviation, he also served in the military and was previously a member of the Wyoming Air National Gaurd before becoming a member of the Montana Air National Gaurd.
From Arizona, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson was 42-years-old and is survived by his wife.
Since graduating from the Naval Academy in 1999, the Coulson Aviation says Hudson spent the last twenty years serving in the United States Marine Corp including the position of C-130 pilot.
Hudson retired as a Lt. Colonel and received multiple decorations during his career. The Coulson Aviation shared he also had a Masters in both Business Administration and Information Technology Management from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Flight Engineer Rick A DeMorgan Jr. was from Florida and is survived by his two children, parents and sister.
The 43-year-old was a flight engineer on the C-130 for 18 years while he served in the U.S. Air Force.
Coulson Aviation says DeMorgan had thousands of hours as a flight engineer and thousands of hours in a combat environment. They also shared he had a passion for his children and flying.
SACRAMENTO, Calif (AP) - California's governor says the three American flight crew members who died when their aerial water tanker crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia were part of a crew on a California-based tanker.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement on Thursday did not identify the crew members but called them heroes.
The premier of Australia's New South Wales state confirmed the crash deaths in the Snowy Monaro region as Australia attempts to deal with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction.
Canada-based Coulson Aviation says one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.
We are heartbroken to learn of the air tanker crash in Australia that claimed the lives of 3 heroic American firefighters.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) January 23, 2020
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