September 4, 2017 (by SSgt. Kristina Overton) - Though the rain has stopped, operations continue as members of the 136th Airlift Wing remain vigilant in providing support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
1st Lt. Chad Douglass, 181st AS C-130H2 Hercules co-pilot, conducts aircraft wing safety checks as he prepares to land in Galveston, Texas on August 30, 2017. The 181st AS are working around the clock to provide personnel, equipment and air support for evacuees in southern Texas. [ANG photo by SSgt. Kristina Overton]
The wing activated more than 900 personnel, sending 300 members to the Texas gulf coast areas to provide immediate support to the relief effort since Aug. 28.
“We are really in an unprecedented deployment of the National Guard,” said Col. George W. Holt, Jr., 136th Airlift Wing commander. “I’ve served in the Guard for over 20 years, been through several hurricanes and other natural disasters, and this truly is the biggest deployment of the 136th. The volume and size of this deployment rivals anything that the wing has ever done, and it’s been a team effort. Everyone in the wing is engaged from top to bottom, 100 percent. Members are in the fight from the middle of the flood zone and that’s what Texans are about, that’s what the Air National Guard is about, and that’s what embodies Texans serving Texas.”
Members of the wing, deployed and at home station, have been performing 24-hour operations to ensure mission success. Through airlift operations, guardsmen conducted 114 sorties to evacuate more than 1400 Hurricane Harvey victims and 28 pets from Beaumont, Houston, and Galveston, Texas.
“I’m very proud of our wing,” Holt said. “How they’ve pulled it off and stepped up to do work outside of their normal day-to-day operations, as well as the way they have professionally done the things they are trained in to make a difference for the folks in the Houston [area]. We’ve also had a lot of other units come in to support, and they have rotated multiple missions here. They stepped up to meet any shortfall or fill a gap allowing us to provide a bigger, better response capacity and we are thankful for them.”
Several units from across the Air National Guard joined the 136th Airlift Wing in evacuating families and transporting essential items. C-130 units from the Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Wyoming, New York, Delaware, and Kentucky Air National Guards supported the State’s massive effort to provide essential personnel, supplies, food and equipment to affected areas.
“We have individuals that are working 16 hours a day making sure that our fellow Texans are being taken care of and that operations here at home are maintained,” said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Walden, 136th Airlift Wing command chief. “It’s amazing seeing how much our people care and how much they want to help. They are doing a phenomenal job.”
“This is what being a guardsman all is about,” Walden said, “answering our states call as well as our nations call. I have to be honest, I am extremely proud of our Airmen.”