Union County resident Col. Charles D. Davis III will command the national military mission charged with combating wildland forest fires known as the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System.
"MAFFS is a team effort," said Davis, who also commands the Operations Group at the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. "We protect lives and property from forest fires, and I'm proud to be a part of it."
As commander of the Air Expeditionary Group Wildland Fire Fighting, Davis will lead three Air National Guard and one U.S. Air Force Reserve Command units that fly military C-130 aircraft and use them as aerial tankers. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the Group controls MAFFS operations nationwide at the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.
Davis is from Weddington and has more than 5,300 hours of military flight time as a U.S. Air Force master navigator and more than 1,000 hours of combat time earned supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
He is also an Airbus A330 Flight Crew Training Instructor at U.S. Airways.
This will be the second year in a row that Col. Davis will lead the MAFFS mission, a job that typically passes from one MAFFS unit to another.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. Following USFS lead planes, aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.
Four local airmen stationed in Charlotte from the 145th Airlift Wing Unit died fighting a wildfire in South Dakota in July, 2012. Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, Sr. Master Sgt. Robert Cannon, Maj. Joseph McCormick and Maj. Ryan David were killed after their plane crashed in the Black Hills.