Kentucky Air National Guard deploys more Airmen for hurricane relief

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Kentucky Air National Guard

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two C-130 Hercules aircraft and 14 more Airmen deployed from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base Friday night, September 1, to fly humanitarian aid and airlift evacuation missions in Texas following unprecedented flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

The Kentucky Air Guardsmen will operate out of Carswell Field, which is located on Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, said Capt. Nick Dobson, mission planner for the Kentucky Air Guard’s 165th Airlift Squadron.

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From Carswell, the Airmen expect to fly missions into Beaumont Municipal Airport, in Beaumont, Texas — the site of some of the worst flooding — to pick up dislocated residents and transport them to Dallas Love Field, Dobson said. Residents will then be moved to safe shelter by emergency responders on the ground.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Brown, a loadmaster in the 165th Airlift Squadron, has supported hurricane relief operations in the past, including Katrina in 2005.

“This is the kind of thing we train to do,” Brown said. “We train for combat and we train for humanitarian missions like this. We’ve done it before, and we’re glad to be called upon again.”

Brown noted that evacuation missions require extra sensitivity on the part of Airmen because they never know what to expect.

“You don’t always know if the passengers are sick or injured, you don’t know what their mental state is, so that means we have to exercise a little more care with them.”

Friday night’s deployment is the third this week for members of the Kentucky Air Guard. The unit sent 18 members of its 123rd Special Tactic Squadron to the Houston area on Sunday, where they have been conducting water patrol missions with inflatable motorboats. To date, those Airmen have rescued more than 330 residents stranded by high water, and controlled air traffic for multiple helicopter landing zones. With the need for roof-top rescues now largely abated, those Airmen are expected to return to Louisville early Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group deployed 43 Airmen, augmented by six troops from the Mississippi Air Guard, to establish an air hub in Houston for air cargo and aeromedical evacuation operations.

“We have a lot of unique capabilities in our wing which allow us to respond effectively during events like this, including pararescuemen, combat controllers and a Contingency Response Group — a unit whose sole reason for existence is to rapidly establish airlift hubs in areas affected by natural disasters or other contingencies,” said Col. David Mounkes, commander of the123rd Airlift Wing, the parent unit of the 165th Airlift Squadron, the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and the 123rd Contingency Response Group.

“Nothing is more rewarding than being able to put all those capabilities to use in our own homeland, helping people in need.”

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.