Kentucky Air Guard Troops Deploy to Coastal Texas

By Air Force Capt. Dale Greer
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2008 - About 25 pararescuemen, combat controllers and support troops from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron began deploying to coastal Texas today to conduct rescue operations for victims of Hurricane Ike.

The Airmen began leaving the Air Guard Base at Louisville International Airport at 5:35 p.m. aboard multiple Kentucky Air Guard C-130s.

The aircraft, bound for Ellington Field near Houston, were loaded with thousands of pounds of medical gear and rescue equipment, including Zodiac motor boats, swift-water rescue boats, all-terrain vehicles, off-road motorcycles and a special tactics operations center, said Chief Master Sgt. Pat Malone, a superintendent in the squadron.

"We're taking everything we need today to establish airfield operations, begin rescue efforts and provide medical assistance as necessary," Malone said.

The equipment also included long-range communications gear and navigational electronics, which the squadron's combat controllers use to control emergency air traffic into and out of disaster areas.

"We can deploy into any environment and establish airfield operations and air traffic control very quickly," Malone said. "That's crucial for successful rescue operations."

Following Hurricane Katrina, for example, members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron established a helicopter landing zone on an Interstate overpass and helped direct helicopter med-evac flights that airlifted more than 11,900 to safety.

(Air Force Capt. Dale Greer is assigned to the Kentucky Air National Guard.)
Kentucky Air Guard Troops Deploy to Coastal Texas [ ]