His name was Craig Hunt. Many of us called him the professor because he was also a chemistry professor at UC. His wife sometimes called him professor nerd teasing him because of his higher than average intellect. He actually had many titles throughout his life because of the vast range of his accomplishments. He was also Lieutenant Commander Hunt when he was the Aircraft Commander of a Navy P-3 Orion patrolling the seas for enemy submarines as first line of defense against the Russian nuclear forces. I sometimes called him Commander because I was once a Navy Petty Officer working on the very planes we fly as tankers today. Most of all I am greatly honored to be able to call him one of my dearest friends.
It was only a week ago I called Craig and we ended up talking about the Ebola virus. I expressed my fears to him because I knew he was up on the latest research. He reassured me that he thought there would soon be a vaccine developed. A few days ago I saw a documentary on the Higgs Bosin particle recently discovered that had profound implications. I couldn’t wait to talk to Craig about it because he could talk about such a complex subject in terms that even I could understand.
I will greatly miss those talks. He was brilliant but always with a sense of humor. I really got to know Craig when we flew together when he was transitioning into the S-2T. We flew a whole fire season together half of the time with me and the other half with S-2 instructor Bob Valette. We became fast friends. I also discovered that Craig was a consummate professional aviator and very solid at flying the S-2 airtanker.
Beyond being a great pilot our many hours of talks reveled to me that he was also a loving husband and father who was very proud of his family. Craig talked to me about his daughter’s wedding showing me the picture of his beautiful “littlie girl” He loved teaching young people and doing research. Having such a man ripped away from us seems almost more than a human heart can bear. But the fact is that Craig was also passionate about fighting fire. He died trying to support the courageous men and women that battle the flames at the fires edge, firefighters that routinely put themselves in harms way to provide for the protection and safety of others. At times like these I find solace in the words from John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. In my 30 years in aerial firefighting we have too often suffered the terrible loss of firefighters both on the ground and in the air. It never gets any easier but it is especially painful when fate strikes a close friend.
I will miss him greatly. Love and Respect to Craig and the Hunt family.