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Homeland Security

Air National Guard helicopter crews join California wildfire fight

by Maj. Alyson M. Teeter
129th Rescue Wing Public Affairs Office

8/16/2012 - MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. (AFNS) -- Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing have been demonstrating their dynamic life-saving capabilities by fighting fires in California since Sunday, August 12.

Two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and aircrews are battling the Jawbone Complex Fire in Kern County, Calif. outside Bakersfield in Southern California. The aircrews are currently based out of the Tehachapi Municipal Airport in Tehachapi, Calif.

After three days of fighting the Jawbone Complex Fire, 129th aircrews have performed more than 120 bucket drops for a total of 58,000 gallons of water dropped. Each bucket drop is approximately 500 gallons.

"Our HH-60G rescue helicopters are performing precision airdrops of water to help contain wildfires in California," said Col. Steven J. Butow, 129th Rescue Wing commander. "This is a great example of the use of airpower in the homeland to save lives and property."

Earlier this year, 129th aircrews performed annual certification for performing bucket drops. The training the aircrews received is in accordance with the California Interagency Military Helicopter Firefighting Program and was provided by certified instructors with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Aircrews have received water bucket training since they were initially certified to perform water bucket drops in 2008.

The primary mission of the 129th Rescue Wing is to rapidly deploy to conduct personnel recovery operations over land and sea, day and night, in both permissive and hostile environments beyond the capability of others to do so. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, the 129th has performed a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including responding to distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations. Over the course of its history, the 129th Rescue Wing has rescued nearly a thousand people.

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