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302nd AEG conducts its 21st day of California wild fire support

by Staff Sgt. Luke Johnson
302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

7/17/2008 - SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AFPN) -- Aircraft and firefighters from the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group began their 21st day of aerial firefighting support missions July 16 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.

On July 15, aerial assets of the 302nd AEG did not perform aerial firefighting missions due limited visibility over the fires. The 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., performed a crew swap, bringing in new Airmen to assist with the 302nd AEG aerial firefighting mission. The 302nd AEG aerial assets have conducted 985 drops in the current fire fighting operations, dispensing more than 1,350,000 gallons of fire retardant and water.

The 302nd AEG comprises eight Air Force MAFFS-capable C-130 Hercules aircraft and six Marine Corps helicopters operating out of McClellan Airfield, and two Navy Reserve helicopters operating from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.

The 302nd AEG C-130 aircraft units include three Air National Guard units -- the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands ANGS, Calif., and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo., and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson AFB, Colo.

Three Marine helicopter units -- Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268, both based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego -- fly CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with specialized firefighting buckets.

United States Navy Reserve helicopters flying from NAS Lemoore are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 85 based out of NAS North Island, Calif. The squadron is flying MH-60S helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized firefighting buckets.

The 302nd AEG provides unique capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

USNORTHCOM continues to closely monitor the California wildfires to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal, and state civil authorities and will launch as many missions as officials require to battle the wildfires.


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