3 U.S. firefighters killed in Australia plane crash identified

From left to right: Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson and Captain Ian H. McBeth. Photos courtesy Coulson Aviation Next Gen Firefighting.
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(KKTV) - The three American crew members who died when a C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia have been identified. One of them with ties to Colorado, according to Governor Jared Polis.

The three have been tabbed heroes by California's Governor Gavin Newsom.

Coulson Aviation posted a release identifying them as Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr.

"We as a company are committed to supporting the families of our fallen heroes through this tragedy," Coulson Aviation posted in the release. "We are incredibly moved by the outpouring and support from those in Australia and around the world. Thank you for recognizing the work that our crews do and for expressing your condolences and grief for the families of our fallen heroes."

Captain McBeth lived in Great Falls, MT and is survived by his wife and three children. He served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was still a member of the Montana Air National Guard. Governor Polis Tweeted out McBeth was a graduate of Wray High School in Colorado.

First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson lived in Buckeye, AZ and is survived by his wife. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and spent 20 years serving in the Marine Corp.

Flight Engineer DeMorgan Jr. lived in Navarre, FL and is survived by his two children Lucas and Logan, his sister Virginia and his parents Rick Sr. and Linda, according to Coulson Aviation. Coulson Aviation added he served more than 2,000 hours in a combat environment.

The New South Wales premier confirmed the crash deaths in the state's Snowy Monaro region as Australia attempts to deal with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction.

The three were part of a crew on a California-based tanker.