Alaska Air National Guard deployed in support of hurricane disaster relief operations
August 31, 2017
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Texas as they deal with historic flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. I’ll never forget how big of an impact small acts of kindness meant to Valdez after the 1964 earthquake. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I want to extend to Texas the Alaskan spirit of pulling together, and offer help. To aid Texas, Alaska has deployed more than 20 personnel from the 249th Airlift Squadron and the Alaska Air National Guard. May God watch over them and those affected by the hurricane, ” said Governor Walker in a prepared statement.
The Alaska Air National Guard stepped up to assist with Hurricane Harvey humanitarian disaster relief operations with the 176th Wing deploying 21 Airmen in one of their C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft Monday morning en route to Fort Hood, Texas.
Two aircrews from the 249th Airlift Squadron and 13 Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron, a crew chief and a photographer, also departed at 10:45 a.m. Monday. They stopped at Moffett Federal Airfield, California to pick up two California Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters - which can be configured to fit inside of the massive C-17 - and seven support personnel to transport to Texas.
The Pave Hawks and Guardian Angels will be tasked with missions to support the Texas National Guard and the state of Texas with search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and as ongoing storm conditions continue to inflict damage.
Guardian Angels are a team of combat rescue officers, pararescuemen, and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists who are uniquely trained personnel recovery professionals. They are a non-aircraft, equipment-based, human weapon system whose primary mission is combat rescue
Because of their unique capabilities, the Guardian Angels have been called upon to assist with the rescue of thousands of civilians worldwide during catastrophic natural disasters and other humanitarian response.
The Alaska Air National Guard is assisting this week, taking to the skies and the waters to search for victims needing to be evacuated.
The 176th Wing deployed 14 pararescuemen and combat rescue officers from the 212th Rescue Squadron, teamed up with PJs from the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, to respond to mission taskings in Vidor, Texas on Wednesday.
The Alaska pararescuemen deployed to Texas with 10 inflatable rubber boats, which were transported with them from a search and rescue staging area in Liberty to a convention center in Orange via a C-47 Chinook helicopter from the 2-149th Aviation Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, today. The pararescuemen and boats were then transported to Vidor by truck, where they conducted water search and rescue operations.
According to Lt. Col. Matthew Komatsu, 212th Rescue Squadron commander, they are there to assist civil authorities as they are needed, using their training, experience and abilities to enhance the search operation.
“The unique thing about what we bring to the fight down there is we’ve got a wide variety of rescue skillsets that we hone for combat applications, and we’ll be bringing that level of expertise to work in conjunction with civil authorities,” he said. “So that where they need us is where we’ll dial in.”
Pararescuemen have specialized medical training, which can be especially beneficial after or during a natural disaster.
“When we get to the person who needs help, we need to be able to keep them alive. So in this case, they’re going to have some highly trained medical professionals who are capable of providing medical care to anybody that they rescue out there before they can actually get evacuation to a hospital or medical treatment facility.”
The rescue teams are being tasked with missions to support the Texas National Guard and the state of Texas as ongoing storm conditions continue to inflict damage.
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Reporting and Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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