About 25 pararescuemen, combat controllers and support troops
from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron began
deploying to coastal Texas over the weekend 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., Saturday, 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
"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. [ANN Salutes Air
Force Capt. Dale Greer, of the Kentucky Air National Guard, for the