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.
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.”