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Air Guardsmen unite to save 19 during hurricane relief operations

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing conduct rescue operations near Sampson, N.C., Sept. 17, 2018. The Guardsmen conducted site surveys and performed aerial refueling with a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and transported 212th RQS personnel to assist with recovering isolated flood survivors via a California ANG’s 129th Wing HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter crewed by members of the 210th RQS. Guardsmen from the 176th Operations Support Squadron and 176th Maintenance Squadron conducted behind the scenes tasks at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., making rescue operations possible. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Jeremy Stephens, aircraft commander, left, and Capt. Matthew Soukup, pilot, both with the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron, land an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft at Naval Air Station Ocean, Va., after assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron prepare to take off from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., to North Carolina via an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft to assist with hurricane relief operations Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 210th Rescue Squadron fly pararescue personnel from the 212th RQS on a California ANG’s 129th Rescue Wing HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter while rescuing isolated flood survivors near Sampson County, N.C., Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 211the Rescue Squadron pilot an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while refueling a California ANG HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter from the 129th Rescue Wing crewed by members of the AKANG’s 210th RSQ transporting pararescuemen with the 212th RQS who are assisting local authorities with rescuing isolated flood survivors near Sampson County, N.C., Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Jeremy Stephens, aircraft commander with the 211th Rescue Squadron, scans the horizon looking for isolated flood survivors aboard an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron scan the horizon looking for isolated flood survivors aboard an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Jeremy Stephens, aircraft commander with the 211th Rescue Squadron, scans the horizon looking for isolated flood survivors aboard an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence

Alaska Air National Guardsmen Capt. Sara Warren, left, combat systems officer, and Senior Airman Daniel Galindo, load master, both with the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron, navigate an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence
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Alaska Air National Guardsmen Capt. Sara Warren, left, combat systems officer, and Senior Airman Daniel Galindo, load master, both with the 176th Wing’s 211th Rescue Squadron, navigate an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft while assisting with hurricane relief operations in North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

Guardsmen rescue 19 during relief efforts in Hurricane Florence
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Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing’s 212th Rescue Squadron assist with recovering isolated flood survivors via a California ANG’s 129th Wing HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter crewed by members of the 210th RQS near Sampson County, N.C., Sept. 17, 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.”            
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