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Homeland Security

National Guard at Hunter supports Hurricane Sandy's disaster response

October 31, 2012

By Nancy Gould, Hunter Army Airfield

Twenty National Guardsmen from Hunter Army Airfield deployed to the disaster response staging area --Task Force Guardian 1-- in Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, to provide relief mission for Hurricane Sandy. The Hunter unit--Detachment 1, Company B, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment-- is among Georgia Army National Guard components activated by Governor Nathan Deal on Monday, along with National Guard units from other states to support the hurricane relief effort.

The Hunter unit is scheduled to work the mission for seven days in two new state-of-the-art CH-47F Chinook helicopters. According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Charlie Woodward, a unit training officer and instructor pilot, the Chinooks will be used to carry food, cargo, extinguish fires with water hauled in their 2,500 gallon, 18,000-pound fire bucket, transport support personnel in and out of the area, and carry heavy equipment and machinery, such a bulldozers, either inside the large cargo area or on the outside, attached.

"We're ready to go," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lance Brennan, one of several pilots with Detachment 1, Company B, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment who will support the relief effort. "The mission is supposed to last seven days but I packed enough clothes for two weeks."

Besides pilots, crewmen on the Chinooks include flight engineers and maintenance support personnel.

"Each Chinook has at least four crew members," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Timothy Ladson, another pilot who deployed a Chinook. "It takes everyone to do the mission. They clear us from power lines and other obstacles."

The seasoned crewmembers have had several deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, providing direct heavy lift combat support and combat aerial surveillance. They have assisted with previous disaster reliefs missions, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2007; Ike and Gustav in 2008. Brennan and other members of the unit also provided wildfire relief with aerial water drops in 2007 to put out Georgia wildfires in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Also, for their experience and excellence, the Boeing Company awarded Detachment 1 Company B, 1st Battalion, 169th Combat Aviation Regiment a 20,000 CH-47 Flight Hour Award for their service from 1992 to 2011.

"We are committed to the mission and have no hesitancy about going," said Ladson. "We're excited that we can help out citizens on our own soil without any shooting, like our mission requires in Afghanistan."

"It's a great feeling to help people who are so devastated by what they've been through. Most are in shock and many have lost everything."

The crew doesn't yet know how they will help when they reach Raleigh but they stand trained and ready to perform any task necessary to provide relief to those victimized by Hurricane Sandy.

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