National Guard “relevant and ready to respond” to hurricane relief mission

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Story by Spc. David Bolton, Kentucky National Guard 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, with additional information from Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Kentucky Guardsmen from "Wildcat Dustoff" Detachment 1, Charlie Co., 2/238th General Aviation Support Battalion stand ready for the Hurricane Irene relief mission at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (photo by Spc. David Bolton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa.  — Members of various National Guard units from the Eastern and Midwestern states converged at the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Aviation Brigade airfield at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. in response to disaster recovery operations in the wake of Hurricane Irene August 29.

“We’re here to help out where we’re needed,” said Capt. Josh P. Damera, commander of C Company of the 244th Florida Army National Guard and UH-60 pilot from Brookfield, Florida.  “It’s why we wear the uniform.”

Eighteen aircraft including UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters stood ready as part of the second package of Task Force 151 to be called upon if needed to assist in state relief efforts.

Lt. Col. Andrew W. Batten, TF 151 aviation commander from Camden, South Carolina, said the assets were ready to move and was pleased with the response from supporting states.

Kentucky Guardsman Spc. Tom Harrington, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment crew chief, communicates internally with his Blackhawk aircrew while standing by to support Hurricane Irene relief mission at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (Photo by Spc. David Bolton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

“This shows that the National Guard Aviation is relevant and ready to respond,” said Batten.

The ability for National Guard service members to answer the call of their country, both domestic and abroad, efficiently stems from continuous training, coordination and exercises with local and state emergency responders nationwide.

According to Sgt. Devin Gregory, a UH-60 crew chief with B Company,  2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment out of Frankfort, Ky, “We have the ability to provide quick relief and provide medevac to put people where they need to be.”

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing also made preparations for the mission.  Airmen from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and 165th Airlift Squadron loaded up a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 expected to stage for rescue operations out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  The  deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen’s departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated.

The National Guard is always ready and always there, trained and equipped to respond to any natural or man made disaster.

Kentucky Air Guardsmen prepare to deploy for rescue operations in aftermath of Hurricane Irene

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as the unit prepares to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where Kentucky Airmen were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen prepare to deploy for rescue operations in aftermath of Hurricane Irene

Loadmasters from the 165th Airlift Squadron guide a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)


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