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Hurricane Katrina relief effort a total force response

9/1/2005 - SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- Airmen from across the Air Force are continuing to search for, rescue, evacuate, treat, feed and comfort Hurricane Katrina’s millions of victims.

Most of the Airmen helping with relief operations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are deploying with units as part of a total force response. And for all those on the ground, there are thousands more volunteering to help.

Helicopters from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., flew to Jackson, Miss., on Aug. 30 to pick up and transport Federal Emergency Management Agency assessment teams to areas affected by the hurricane.

Fifteen HH-60G Pave Hawks and crews from the 347th RQW at Moody AFB, Ga., and the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field., Fla., have also been positioned in Jackson.

In the first 24 hours of operations, rescue crews from the 347th RQW rescued 211 people, including children and some pregnant women.

"As always, the rescue wing is ready meet the demand," said Col. Joe Callahan, 347th RQW commander. "We are going to be part of the total team effort needed to help the area begin to get on its way to recovery in the aftermath of this tragic and horrible disaster."

In addition, about 100 Airmen and four Pave Hawks from the 55th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., will depart Sept. 2 for Jackson where they will stage while conducting search and rescue missions.

Two Air Force Reserve Command C-5 Galaxy aircrews from the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., flew a cross-country mission Aug. 30 to March ARB, Calif., to pick up rescue teams and supplies to help the victims of the hurricane. A third C-5 assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Airlift Group also joined the airlift effort.

Another C-5 from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., and a C-17 from the 305th AMW at McGuire AFB, N.J., transported tanker airlift control elements and contingency support groups to Gulfport and New Orleans respectively.

A C-130 Hercules from the 403rd Wing at Keesler AFB, Miss., flying out of Asheville, N.C., returned home to deliver supplies to the base hospital.

The 908th AW at Maxwell AFB, Ala., geared up two C-130s, aircrews and aeromedical evacuation people to help move people.

The 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins AFB, Ga., left for Keesler AFB and New Orleans on Sept. 1. The group members provided Keesler and a makeshift hospital in New Orleans with much-needed communications networks. A priority of the relief mission is to provide public telephone capabilities to the base and medical facility, said Col. John Lent, 5th CCG commander. The 5th will set up voice data communications, e-mail and air traffic control communications. The group is also packing additional loads of communications equipment for quick response to any additional needs for the relief effort.

Two aeromedical evacuation crews from the 932nd Airlift Wing at Scott AFB, Ill., flew out Sept. 1. They will enter a medical staging area and put their skills to work helping move patients where needed. The aeromedical crews took supplies with them including litters, heart monitors, ventilators, power converters, portable oxygen, assorted medicines and bandages.

A C-9A aircraft is also being flown by the Air Force Reserve wing to shuttle two active-duty medical teams to New Orleans.

"This is a difficult time for those directly affected by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Our medical crews will join with other agencies on the ground to give what medical aid they can, and make a positive difference in the lives of our fellow Americans," said Col. Maryanne Miller, 932nd AW Operations Group commander.

The Alabama National Guard sent 1,400 and Army and Air National Guardsmen to Mississippi on Sept. 1. The troops will provide security to Mississippi officials and will help the state re-establish communication networks.

About 400 Texas Army and Air National Guardsmen will also soon be leaving for Louisiana to provide medical and communications support.

About 200 Airmen from Keesler AFB evacuated to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, on Sept. 1 via a C-17 Globemaster III.

“Sheppard is prepared to receive, feed and house up to 1100 Airmen, with the capability to accommodate even more,” said Brig. Gen. James Whitmore, 82nd Training Wing commander.

Along with humanitarian support, aircraft have also been capturing the imagery of the devastation.

Beale AFB, Calif., sent a U-2 Dragonlady on Sept. 1. The film-based imagery equipment used is ideal for photographing very large areas with high resolution. In a six-hour mission, a U-2 using the equipment can collect imagery over 90,000 square nautical miles.

An OC-135B Air Force aircraft, similar to the Boeing 707, from Offutt AFB, Neb., also flew over the area to record historic photographs.

Humanitarian efforts are continuing. Countless Airmen nationwide are standing by to provide any support they can.

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