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Air Combat Command Airmen provide hurricane relief

9/3/2005 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN)  -- More than 500 combat engineers, communication specialists, medics and helicopter crews from Air Combat Command are providing relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The 823rd Red Horse Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., deployed to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., along with an 88-person ACC team ferrying 1,050 tons of heavy equipment, beddown material, supplies and fuel.

Their first priority was to reopen Keesler’s runway. Working through the night, squadron leaders gave the green light to begin C-17 operations the morning of Aug. 31. Away from the flight line, Red Horse engineers evaluated the structural integrity of standing facilities and approved several for housing displaced servicemembers and their families. They also secured the base’s perimeter and cleared debris from roads. Electricians and utilities craftsmen restored the main lift station to ensure safe containment of the base's waste water.

At Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., 49th Materiel Maintenance Group officials are moving five tent city sets used for housing. Each set includes billeting, kitchen, water purification, shower and latrine facilities for more than 500 people. The tent cities will be set up at Keesler, Eglin AFB, Fla., and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Four helicopters and crews from the 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and another two crews and a helicopter from the 54th Helicopter Flight at Minot AFB, N.D., deployed to provide relief. The crews are trained in search and rescue and to move people and supplies.

ACC is also providing support from the air, not directly visible to those on the ground. A U-2 "Dragonlady" surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft from Beale AFB, Calif., flew a 12-hour mission supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to collect imagery of devastated areas. The imagery will be used to help relief officials prioritize disaster relief efforts.

In Louisiana, Barksdale AFB has been designated by FEMA as its federal mobilization center.

Additionally, two Hammer ACE units deployed to Keesler to restore vital communications at the base.

At Langley AFB, ACC activated its 24-hour crisis action team to coordinate the deployment of the command’s Airmen, equipment and relief supplies. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)

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