A massive wildfire called the White Draw fire was raging in South Dakota. The 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard, based in Charlotte, sent Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130s to the area.
“Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you.” —1 Chronicles 28:20
“The support of civil authorities during natural disasters is a key and unique mission of the National Guard,” said Army Major General Gregory Lusk, the adjutant general of North Carolina National Guard. “The MAFFS mission represents interagency coordination between the guard, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense organizations to suppress the fires.”
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Retardant is discharged along the leading edge of a fire, while water is dropped directly on the flames. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
While fighting the White Draw fire, one C-130 crew of six seasoned airmen flew in to dump retardant, but the massive fires can cause havoc with flying conditions and the plane went down, killing four of the guardsmen.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul K. Mikeal, Major Joseph M. McCormick, Major Ryan S. David, and Senior Master Sergeant Robert S. Cannon died attempting to protect property and save the lives of American citizens on American soil.
Regardless of the agencies involved or the state-of-the-art equipment available, human courage and skill is always required, as well as incredible personal risk, in saving lives in natural disasters. Pray for courage. Hone your skill.
HOLY GOD, thank You for my skill and my desire to serve. May I use the resources available to me wisely, but always remember that human life is the reason we serve.