Army Guardsmen support hurricane relief efforts

By Capt. Rob Cooley, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade

Soldiers with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade load personnel and equipment into a C-17 Globemaster in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 16, 2018. Approximately 60 Guardsmen from the unit deployed to North Carolina to assist with command and control of Army aviation assets in the affected areas following Hurricane Florence. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Rob Cooley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Approximately 60 members of the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, led by Col. Dwayne Lewis, deployed to Raleigh N.C., Sept. 16, to provide command and control for all the Army aviation assets responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The unit will set up a command and control center in order to synchronize all aviation efforts of communication, rescue operations, and overall assistance to those affected by the storm.

“This is the best part of being a Guardsman, answering the call for help from citizens of our neighboring states,” Lewis said. “As aviators we know the equipment we operate are sometimes the only hope those in the most need have, and we take the mission of supporting our neighbors and rendering life sustaining aid very seriously.”

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Last year, Soldiers and assets from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade were instrumental in saving countless lives, and offering sustainment aid to thousands of Americans in the wake of three separate hurricanes; Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“Helping our fellow citizens never gets old,” said Capt. Miles Miller, Commander of the Headquarters’ Company, 63rd TAB. “We are well trained and prepared to execute our mission. It is an honor and a privilege to lead these Soldiers into the path of the storm.”

Hurricane Florence was recently downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm with 30-40 mph wind gust and torrential downpours. Parts of North Carolina are anticipating up to three feet of rainfall with flooding.

Currently there are more than 7,500 National Guardsmen deployed to the affected areas supporting local authorities. That number includes 12 Airmen from Kentucky’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron from Louisville.