The rescue of a 98 year old woman by Air Force helicopter exemplifies the challenging conditions that our nation’s heroes face.
We’ve already done a few stories about Hurricane Harvey and the search and rescue / recovery assistance the military has provided in the affected areas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said that military assistance has been provided by 43 states so far. Abbott called up the entire 12,000-member Texas National Guard to assist with the recovery efforts and the other state National Guard units are working alongside Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard assets to provide manpower, equipment, and support. Here’s a video from The US Army YouTube channel.
Air National Guard (ANG) units in Texas include the 176th Rescue Wing of the Alaska ANG, the 129th Rescue Wing of the California ANG, the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York ANG, the 920th Rescue Wing of the Florida ANG, the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut ANG, and the 125th Special Tactics Squadron of the Oregon ANG. Army National Guard helicopters and hundreds of personnel from Arizona, Utah, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana, and other states have and still are performing not only search and rescue missions but also bridging, water rescue, logistics movement, airfield openings and medical water purification tasks. Here’s a video from the CBS News YouTube channel.
The Texas Army National Guard still has more than 20 helicopters working search and rescue and evacuation missions in Southeast Texas. Roughly 70 Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks, Eurocopter UH-72 Lakotas, and Boeing CH-47 Chinooks in Army colors are sharing the skies with Air Force Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk, Navy Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk, and a total of some 39 Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk and Aerospatiale / Eurocopter MH-65 Dauphin helicopters. Add helicopters from the local Police, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies to the mix and it’s fair to say there are more than a hundred helicopters in the skies over Texas at any given time. Here’s a video from the CBS This Morning YouTube channel.
Fixed-wing aircraft assisting with the aftermath of Harvey include Coast Guard Lockheed HC-130J Hercules and CASA HC-144A Ocean Sentry search and rescue aircraft, Air Force KC-130 and HC-130 Hercules tankers and transports, Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and even Boeing E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS surveillance aircraft and at least one McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) KC-10 Extender tanker too. The Air Force has also sent elements of the 347th Rescue Group including personnel from the the 38th and 41st Rescue Squadrons to the area.
In addition to the Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters already in the area from HSC-7 Dusty Dogs and HSC-28 Dragon Whales, the service has dispatched the assault carrier USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) with about 700 members of Marine Expeditionary Unit 26 to the area for relief assistance. The Marine Corps Reserve has sent Bell UH-1Y Venom helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 Red Dogs to the region. Other Marine Corps assets in the area include inflatable boats, 7-ton trucks and other high-water vehicles, and even AAVP7 tracked armored personnel carriers- which look awesome driving / floating around flooded city streets!
The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has provided generators and 50,000 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel to keep the various military vehicles running. All told there are, in addition to the 12,000 members of the Texas Army National Guard, more active-duty personnel deployed in or prepared to deploy to the region. The Army has stated that more than 16,000 personnel from 23 states are involved. As search and rescue / recovery efforts continue it is important to note that the flooding in the Houston, Beaumont, and western Louisiana regions is not expected to subside not for days, but for weeks.