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American Forces Press Service

Kentucky Air Guard Deploys Search and Recovery Team Following Hurricane Florence

By Air Force Maj. Allison Stephens
123rd Airlift Wing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- At the request of North Carolina public health officials and to augment the North Carolina Medical Examiner, the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Fatality Search and Recovery Team deployed 11 members to North Carolina yesterday in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

North Carolina has been inundated by massive flooding over the past three days, with the storm claiming at least 18 lives so far.

The airmen left here with a variety of disaster response equipment, including specialized protective suits, rafts and trailers, as well as their own food and water supply, said Air Force Capt. Jonathan Fairbanks, the team's officer in charge. He added that the team is expected to be paired with a cadaver dog search team.

Fairbanks said his team is well prepared for the sensitive tasking.

"Our mission is to recover those who have lost their lives, and we have the training and resources to return them back to their families with dignity and respect," he said.

The Kentucky National Guard has already deployed two other units in support of relief efforts -- the Kentucky Air National Guard's Louisville-based 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and the Kentucky Army National Guard's 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade from Frankfort.

Other units from the Kentucky Air National Guard are prepared for additional assignments, said Air Force Col. Jeffrey Wilkinson, commander of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing.

"Our airmen are on a heightened state of readiness so they can respond rapidly as needed," Wilkheinson said. "Disaster response is one of our key missions, and we are prepared to provide any assistance necessary."

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