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Homeland Security

American Forces Press Service

Guard Called in for 'Balloon Boy' Rescue

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 16, 2009 – The Colorado Army National Guard joined rescue efforts for a 6-year-old boy believed adrift in a homemade hot air balloon yesterday.

Colorado citizen-soldiers used UH-60 Black Hawk and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters to provide military assistance to civilian authorities who believed Falcon Heene was inside a silver Mylar balloon adrift over the northern Colorado plains, National Guard Bureau officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and sheriff's deputies were told that the experimental helium hot air balloon broke free from its tethers at the Heenes' home in Fort Collins with the boy inside.

The Colorado National Guard's Joint Operations Center responded to an Air Force Rescue Coordination Center request for assistance to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, Colorado National Guard officials said.

The Black Hawk, which had rescue capabilities in the event that an airborne rescue was required, carried observers and medical personnel, 1st Air Force officials reported.

The Colorado National Guard stood down from the mission after local authorities determined that the boy was safe in his home.

Located under 1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is the agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal search and rescue activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada. It directly ties to the FAA's alerting system.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves with National Guard Bureau public affairs.)


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