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Airmen from Delaware and other Air National Guard units complete missions after standing by to assist with potential Hurricane Dean disaster relief efforts

Release Number: 050807

Delaware Air National Guard
Headquarters, 166th Airlift Wing
2600 Spruance Drive
New Castle, DE 19720-1615 

Contact: Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
Public Affairs Specialist, 166th Airlift Wing
Cell 302-593-2126, or office 302-323-3369
E-mail: Benjamin.Matwey@denewc.ang.af.mil
Release No. 2007-08-004 [corrected Release No., and corrected text for ANGRC]
August 21, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW CASTLE, Delaware - The mission of the Delaware Air National Guard aeromedical evacuation unit, as well as fellow Airmen from eight similar ANG units from across the country who were either sent to Texas, were en-route to Texas or on standby at their home stations ready to assist with Hurricane Dean disaster relief missions, are now complete.

Unit Airmen from four states now in Texas all are scheduled to fly out today, August 21, and return to their home units, and three units en-route to Texas are heading back home.

Members of the Texas National Guard remain at the ready in case of any other needs.

A Delaware Air National Guard C-130 aircraft took off mid-afternoon today, Aug. 21 from Texas, and is expected to return to New Castle this evening, landing before sunset.

The Delaware ANG is one of nine aeromedical evacuation units from 10 ANG wings with specialized AE personnel in other states initially tasked to standby for these missions. Delaware was the first ANG wing to launch an aircraft with AE personnel, and along with N.Y. was one of the first two ANG units on the ground in Texas.

On Monday morning Aug. 20, 2007, a team of 16 Delaware Air National Guard aeromedical evacuation specialists, all nurses and medical technicians, took off aboard a unit C-130 aircraft to fly to Texas. They were tasked by the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to preposition with similar ANG units from other states in case they were called upon by the Governor of Texas to assist with any Hurricane Dean relief efforts in case of landfall in Texas.

The Airmen from the Delaware ANG's 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation took off from New Castle County Airport, Delaware 7:30 a.m. Monday in a unit C-130 transport aircraft. The group first flew to Stratton Air National Guard Base/Schenectady County Airport in Scotia, N.Y. to pick up 11 more aeromedical specialists from the 139th AES, part of the 109th Airlift Wing, N.Y. ANG.

Two other states sent teams to Texas, three states had aeromedical personnel en-route to Texas, and three more states were on standby at their home bases, awaiting a green light.

All were prepared to help in case activated, and together could move approximately 1,500 to 3,000 patients aboard various aircraft according to National Guard estimates.

Two other units that also arrived in Texas were the 137th Airlift Wing from the Oklahoma ANG, which supplied a MASF team and an AE Liaison Team, combined with a MASF augmentee team from the 187th Airlift Wing, Wyoming ANG. They landed at Valley International Airport, in Harlington, Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico south of Houston.

Three states each sent a 5-person AE team as far as Okla., where they were told to stop and await further instructions. Those units were the 183rd Airlift Wing of the Miss. ANG, the 137th Airlift Wing of the Okla. ANG (which also sent a separate group of medical specialists to Texas), and the 156th Airlift Wing of the N.C. ANG

Three aeromedical evacuation teams from ANG units in Minn., Tenn. and Calif. remained on standby at their home bases.

An additional unit Airman from the Delaware ANG, Maj. Terry Thomas, a flight nurse, was called to duty over the weekend of Aug. 18-19 at the Air National Guard  Readiness Center to help coordinate responses from Delaware and nine additional units across the country. She remains on duty this week.

"We [Air National Guard aeromedical evacuation units] arrived in plenty of time and ready in case anything happened. That was a lesson learned in Hurricane Katrina, to get down to a [potential natural disaster] site quickly. We did much better this time, moving planes, people and equipment. I think we did a great job," said Maj. Terry Thomas, coordinating ANG personnel and resources as part of the ANG Crisis Action Team within the ANG Readiness Center.

Col. Jonathan Groff, Air Commander, 166th Airlift Wing, said, "Due to our timely efforts and support from all base personnel, all of our processes and procedures that were in place ensured that the wing met the call."

About 4,700 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, most of them from Texas, were preparing on Aug. 20 for a rapid response should Hurricane Dean strike the Texas coast. Another 5,000 Texas National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are poised for activation should Texas Gov. Rick Perry deem it necessary.

The 16 Delaware ANG Airmen were comprised of 13 members of a mobile aeromedical staging facility (MASF) team, basically a staging facility for patients, and a three-member aeromedical evacuation liaison team. Carried aboard the aircraft were tents, generators, liters, a humvee (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle), medical equipment and supplies.

The Delaware aircraft landed around 4:00 p.m. Monday at McAllen-Miller International Airport, in McAllen, Texas, at the southern tip of the state near the border with Mexico. They unloaded the humvee, equipment and supplies, and the 16 medical specialists bedded down for the night. The aircrew flew the aircraft to nearby Kelly Air Force Base, outside of San Antonio.

Five additional Airmen, an aeromedical evacuation crew of 2 nurses and 3 medical technicians, arrived on base Monday morning Aug. 20, packed up supplies and equipment and ready to leave for Texas on the first available aircraft, but were kept on standby all day and night, and released from duty Tuesday.

Also, three soldiers from the Delaware Army National Guard spent several days in the U.S. Virgin Islands through the weekend on standby to assist fellow citizens in case they were needed. Those soldiers returned home Monday night.

"This is our job, taking care of the homeland. That's what we're here for," said Senior Master Sgt. Eileen Maher, an aeromedical evacuation technician and unit point person who contacted fellow members and been on base all weekend, and also arrived 4:30 a.m. Monday to help prepare for the missions, and spent four long days with little sleep assisting with many details.

How the Airmen got involved in this effort began Friday afternoon Aug. 17 when the unit got a heads up from planners at the National Guard Bureau that they might be needed. The base received an official order 2:00 p.m. Saturday and instituted a recall roster of members. Two dozen Airmen reported to base 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning to begin preparations.

Lt. Col. Chuck Gebhart, medical services corps officer and chief administrator of the Delaware Air Guard 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, said, "The entire unit responded, and we were ready to get on an aircraft as early as 8:00 p.m. Sunday night."

Just a couple months ago a dozen of these same medical specialists completed four months of aeromedical evacuation missions to Southwest Asia, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brig. Gen. Hugh Broomall, Assistant Adjutant General for Air, Delaware National Guard, said, "This is a commitment to our fellow states to help someone in need, showing National Guard units helping other National Guard units and Americans helping Americans."

Helping citizens affected by a natural disaster is nothing new for members of the National Guard. Hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers from Delaware Guard units, and thousands more troops from other National Guard units went to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina struck in late August, 2005 to ensure safety and order, provide water, food and medical care to citizens, and to evacuate people from dire situations.

This release is in the public domain, and any part may be used as written.

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