‘A Hero’: Officials Honor Arizona Firefighter Killed in Australia Plane Crash

By Camaron Stevenson

January 24, 2020

The Marine veteran was fighting wildfires in Australia when he died in a plane crash over New South Wales.

On Thursday, officials identified First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson as one of three U.S. firefighters killed in a C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crash in New South Wales. Hudson, a Buckeye resident, was in Australia helping to fight the wildfires.

Officials also identified Capt. Ian H. McBeth from Great Falls Montana and Flight Engineer Rick. DeMorgan Jr. from Navarre, Florida, as the other two U.S. firefighters who died in the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three crew members on board, stated Coulson Aviation (USA) Inc. in a press release. Coulson said the C-130 left Richmond in New South Wales with a load of retardant and was on a “firebombing mission.”

At a news conference, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, “Initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground.”

Since the release of the crash details, people across the globe have taken to social media to express their condolences of sorrow and gratefulness.

“The brave Americans who died near Snowy Monaro died helping Australia in its time of need,” said Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., U.S. ambassador in Canberra, in a statement on Twitter. “The families of those who we have lost are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you Australia for your sympathy and solidarity.”

Locally, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff today from sunset to sunrise to honor Hudson.

“First Officer Paul Hudson was a hero who represented Arizona’s very best,” said Governor Ducey. “A graduate of the Naval Academy, First Officer Hudson served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps before becoming a firefighter. Then, when duty called again, First Officer Hudson didn’t hesitate, putting his life on the line to help others battling wildfires in Australia. My sincere condolences go out to First Officer Hudson’s family and loved ones. And our prayers are with them and all Arizona’s firefighters providing aid in Australia.

In addition to Gov. Ducey’s order, many Arizonans spent time Friday expressing condolences and honoring Hudson.

Hudson is survived by his wife, Noreen. The 42-year-old veteran graduated from the Naval Academy in 1999 and served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years.


  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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