Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tanker 09 Crashes

I received a text last night from a very good friend of mine, she was very upset and the words on her text said it all..."Tanker 09 crashed tonight..." Several more texts and eventually phone calls followed. The news was confirmed that Tanker 09 had crashed outside of Reno NV. It has been a rough year... I don't know that the deaths which have occured this year are any more numerous than those of past years, however the impact of those involved has hit closer to home than it usually does.
I thought perhaps I would simply link another blog in order for you to get the story... they have said it more elequantly than I could and have many more of the facts...
Tanker 09 had been here in Color Country just a day before... fighting the Toquerville Falls fire just north of St. George. I watched them make several drops on the fire, marvelling at the skill the pilots on board had... I remember seeing the crew when I got back to the Air Center that night. I didn't take the time to say much more than "Hi", as I rushed out the door... tired and ready for a meal. I wish that I would have stopped to tell them what a wonderful job they had done supporting our fire.
All too often the aviation resources that arrive on our fires, show up from seemingly knowhere just to return to that same place. I don't know that us firefighters spend enough time thinking about the risk that these pilots take on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong... it is a risky business that we are in and I am sure the pilots of these large aircraft are well aware of the risk they accept day after day... that doesn't mean that it is any less relevant that we should thank them!
I knew the pilot of Tanker 09... I had talked with him several times over the years, as we both sat eating a meal and watching a blurb or two on the news at the Air Center... These men were good men... with wives and families... looking back I wish that more time had been afforded me to know them and more about their lives. I wish that I had taken a moment longer to talk with them the night they came off the last fire we worked together... that is a moment I will not get back. My point is this, if you haven't thanked a fellow firefighter for the efforts they put in on the fireline lately... well, you should! Also, don't forget that those pilots flying the "heavy iron" above are part of the firefighting family... they too deserve a pat on the back once in a while and to hear the words, "job well done"!
My support goes out to the families of the crew for Tanker 09... today the crew will place our flag at half mast in their honor, and we will not soon forget the difference they made in our battles against wildfire. God bless them & may he now be with them and support those that these men have left behind...