176th Wing sends helicopters, airmen to Gulf Coast

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. John Callahan
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs
Responding to a request from the State of Louisiana, the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing is deploying two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and approximately 30 airmen to support search-and-rescue efforts expected in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.

The highly trained helicopter aircrews and pararescuemen (members of the wing's 210th and 212th rescue squadrons, respectively) are currently preparing for deployment. At approximately 3 a.m. tomorrow (Monday, Sep. 1) a C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift transport (crewed by members of the wing's 249th Airlift Squadron) will arrive at Kulis. At 3:30 a.m. the helicopters' rotors will be folded, and they will be loaded for transport onto the C-17. Throughout the rest of the early morning the personnel and their equipment will be loaded onto the aircraft.

The C-17 is expected to depart Kulis at approximately 6:30 a.m. Monday (Alaska time). They will arrive in Mississippi around 2 p.m. local time. At that point they will assess the situation and either begin operations or move forward to an area closer to the hurricane's area of effect.

The deploying Alaskans are one of two groups from Alaska who will be operating in the area. Another group of the 212th's pararescuemen, already in Kentucky on a training assignment, are being recalled from that training and directed to the Gulf Coast.
The Alaska Air National Guard members are deploying under the auspices of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a program that allows guard units to mobilize upon request to render assistance to other states. They will serve in this capacity for up to two weeks. They have not been activated for federal service, although that remains a possibility if portions of the Gulf Coast are designated as federal disaster areas.

Alaska is one of several state guard organizations rendering assistance to the Gustav impact zone.