ALWAYS – Tanker 134
Three heroes left to do their job. three did not return
Every task cheating death, peril at every turn
Experience their master, flown with utmost care
Passing through the gates of hell, where most others did not dare
They rose into the hostile sky, of gale and smoke and dust
The high noon of their destiny, the wind’s deadly gust
Staring down nature’s wrath, they had done it all before
No time for complacency, in a fire storm’s war
No one will ever know, the loss their families feel
For sadly that for many, some wounds never heal
A scar upon the bushland, a reminder of their plight
A place down `by the snowy, now a scared site
The flag upon the casket, a tribute well deserved
Taps, a sad reminder, of a nation they had served
The eagle and the kangaroo, will pause to shed a tear
A century of mateship, with those we hold so dear
Three heroes left to do their job, three did not return
Many miles across the sea, loving hearts will yearn
Three heroes left to do their job and mounted heavens stairs
Three heroes left to do their job, “always” in our prayers
By Tomas ‘Paddy Hamilton
25 January 2020
Note from the author…
Today is a very sad day for those connected with aerial fire bombing in Australia as it marks the first anniversary of the loss of Tanker 134, which crashed while fire bombing in the Monaro district south of Canberra on this date last year.
Although it was an American aircraft and the crew were all US reservists or ex-service, there was a strong bond between Hercules operators of the RAAF and USAF.
I actually watched the aircraft take off on that fatal flight.
I titled this poem ALWAYS, as a nod to the 1989 movie of the same name.
In Memory of the Crew:
Pilot: Lieutenant Colonel Ian McBeth, USAF
First Officer: Lieutenant Colonel Paul Clyde Hudson, USMC (Retd)
Flight Engineer: Master Sergeant Rick A. DeMorgan Jr, USAF (Retd)
CONTACT coverage of the crash:
COMPOSITE IMAGE CAPTION:
MAIN: A New South Wales Rural Fire Service member at RAAF Base Richmond watching a USAF Globemaster prepare to repatriate Senior Master Sergeant Rick DeMorgan, who was killed in the Tanker 134 crash on 23 January 2020. Photo by Eamon Hamilton.
INSET LOWER: Tanker 134 crew Lieutenant Colonel Ian McBeth, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Clyde Hudson, USMC (Retd) and Master Sergeant Rick A. DeMorgan Jr, USAF (Retd).
INSET UPPER: A Coulson air tanker.