43 more Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

A loadmaster from the Tennessee Air National Guard's 164th Airlift Wing directs an all-terrain forklift onto a C-17 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017, to support rescue operations in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. More than 30 Kentucky Air Guardsmen and 90 tons of equipment are being airlifted from Louisville to Houston to stand up an aeromedical evacuation and air cargo hub. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Airmen from the Kentucky and Tennessee Air National Guard load a container of cargo onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Master Sgt. Jesse Spainhour, a crew chief from the Tennessee Air Guard, pulls a pallet of equipment from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 Globemaster III at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

A Tennessee Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III taxies on the ramp at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017, prior to loading more than 40 Airmen and 45 tons of cargo from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air Guard in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. The Airmen are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Staff Sgt. Joseph Mendoza, an aerial transportation specialist from the the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, secures a forklift onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Staff Sgt. Jamie Rosado (left) and Tech Sgt. Micheal Lovensheimer, aerial transportation specialists from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, push a fuel bladder onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Master Sgt. Jeff Romig, plans and programs manager for the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Maintenance Group, secures a forklift onto an Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

An aerial transportation specialist from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron guides a truck onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations

Airmen from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group secure a forklift onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Tech Sgt. Micheal Lovensheimer, an aerial transportation specialist from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, secures a forklift onto a Tennessee Air Guard C-17 at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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A loadmaster from the Tennessee Air Guard guides a forklift from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Staff Sgt. Jamie Rosado, an aerial transportation specialist for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, secures a forklift from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are heading to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Master Sgt. Eric Gast, a loadmaster from the Tennessee Air Guard, guides a forklift from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are heading to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Kentucky Air National Guardsmen conduct water rescue missions in Friendswood, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard prepare their equipment in Houston, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017, before conducting water rescue missions in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Kentucky Air National Guardsmen conduct water rescue missions in Friendswood, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard prepare their equipment in Houston, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017, before conducting water rescue missions in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

Kentucky Air Guardsmen deploy for Hurricane Harvey rescue operations
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Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron fly on board a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter near Houston, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017. The Airmen, assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, are patrolling the area in motorboats, looking for people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the massive flooding. Once the residents are safely in the boats, the Airmen provide any necessary medical care and transport them to the nearest shelter. (U.S. Air National Guard photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Forty-three additional Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard departed here for Texas yesterday to assist with Hurricane Harvey rescue operations, including aeromedical evacuations.

An eight-person assessment team from the 123rd Contingency Response Group deployed aboard a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 aircraft at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 29, en route to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. Once on the ground, they will assess the physical condition of the airport and evaluate its ability to support relief operations, according to Col. Bruce Bancroft, the unit’s commander.

A second group of 35 Airmen from the same unit, augmented by six Airmen from the Mississippi Air Guard, departed the evening of Aug. 29 aboard two C-17 aircraft, also en route to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The Airmen on those flights deployed with all the equipment needed to rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations, including communications gear, power generators and all-terrain forklifts for the off-loading of humanitarian assistance arriving by airlift.

“We expect to be operational within a few hours of landing in Houston,” Bancroft said. “Our first task will be to facilitate the aeromedical evacuation of patients. To make that happen, we will be offloading one C-5 aircraft that’s bringing in the equipment and personnel for a DASF, or Disaster Aeromedical Staging Facility.”

A DASF is a field medical unit, staffed by specially trained doctors and nurses, that provides for the care of patients who are being evacuated to hospitals or other care facilities.

Follow-on missions are expected, Bancroft said. These could include the off-loading, staging and forward movement of a wide range of humanitarian cargo — everything from food and water to blankets and medical supplies.

Bancroft noted that the 123rd CRG has extensive experience in responding to natural disasters. The unit was hand-picked in 2010 to establish and operate one of two overseas airlift hubs supporting earthquake-recovery efforts in Haiti, directing the delivery of hundreds of tons of relief supplies into the Dominican Republic for subsequent trucking to Haiti. The 123rd CRG also deployed to Senegal in 2014 to establish and operate an Aerial Port of Debarkation/Intermediate Staging Base in support of Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The unit’s Airmen processed 193 aircraft and 1,200 short tons of cargo, including blood, plasma and tactical vehicles during the two-month deployment.

“We are 100 percent ready to execute this mission and get relief to the people of Texas,” Bancroft said. “Our prayers and thoughts are with the folks in Houston, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to put our skills into action. At a time like this, we’re all Texans.”

Meanwhile, another group of 18 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen who deployed to Texas on Sunday is currently conducting airfield operations at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston and rescue missions in Pearland and Friendswood, Texas.

“We have 12 Airmen who went out in motorboats (yesterday morning), patrolling in Pearland and Friendswood looking for ‘opportune rescues’ — people who are trapped in their homes or on rooftops because of the flooding,” said Maj. Aaron Zamora, director of operations for the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron. “Once the residents are safely in the boats, our Airmen are providing medical care if needed and transporting them to the nearest shelter.”

Like Kentucky’s 123rd Contingency Response Group, the special operators have extensive experience responding to natural disasters. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, members of the unit established and operated a helicopter landing zone on a highway overpass in New Orleans, helping evacuate nearly 12,000 citizens.