Air Guardsmen unite to save 19 during hurricane relief operations
By Staff Sgt. Balinda Dresel, Joint Forces Headquarters - Alaska Public Affairs
/ Published September 18, 2018
NAVAL AIR STATION OCEANA, Va. -- NAVAL AIR STATION OCEANA, Virginia – Air National Guardsmen from across the nation united to provide assistance and rescue isolated flood survivors in North Carolina, Sept. 17, in response to extreme flooding from the wake of Hurricane Florence battering North and South Carolina.
The task force of 181 Guardsmen from Alaska, California, Kentucky, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania banded together to provide highly experienced logistics, intelligence, weather, communications, air transport, and pararescue personnel in coordination with local authorities in Sampson and Clinton Counties, N.C.
“We were prepositioned here from Alaska in support of the personnel recovery task force,” said Master Sgt. Cody Inman, a pararescue team lead with the 176th Wing’s 212th Rescue Squadron, who said teams were launched at the request of the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center.
Two HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters from the California ANG’s 129th Rescue Wing and New York ANG’s 106th RQW along with C-130s from the 106th RQW and 176th Wing were launched for missions throughout the day.
“For every pararescueman or combat rescue officer that goes down the hoist and for every pilot or special mission aviator that’s flying that aircraft, there’s probably seven to 10 support personnel behind them – making sure that happens,” said Inman, who doesn’t believe they get enough credit.
New York ANG Technical Sgt. Ryan Dush, a pararescuemen from the 106th RQW’s 103rd RQS, agreed with Inman.
“When someone comes up and gives you a hug or says thank you out there and they [only] see you – they don’t see the whole story behind the scenes,” said Dush. “I wish there was a way to convey that to everybody here.”
From maintainers making sure the aircraft are up and running to Host Aviation Resource Management personnel making sure the flight records are taken care of, and logistics specialists providing information on local area hospitals, Inman recognized and thanked these individuals on behalf of the AKNG team.
The National Guard works as part of an integrated federal, state and local network, supporting civil authorities during emergency response efforts.
“Seeing all these Americans coming from across the country to help the people of North Carolina was amazing,” said Inman, who was especially proud of the humble and grateful nature of the people experiencing the natural disaster.”