Kentucky and Mississippi Air Guardsmen establish air hub for Hurricane Harvey response
By Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton, 123rd Public Affairs
/ Published August 31, 2017
HOUSTON, Texas -- Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard established an aeromedical evacuation and air cargo hub here yesterday, attaining mission-capable status within hours of their arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
With the local area under severe flooding, hospitals overwhelmed, and the need for patients to relocate to different medical facilities, the 49 Airmen wasted no time establishing the hub after arriving with 90 tons of gear aboard two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in the early morning hours of Aug. 30.
“Right now, the number we’re hearing is that approximately 1,800 patients need to be evacuated out of the disaster area,” said Col. Bruce Bancroft, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group, whose personnel make up the bulk of the mission. “They will be staged to a forward area. We’re going to facilitate that and allow aeromedical evac to happen. We coordinate all the aircraft coming in and facilitate the ramp space with the other agencies here.”
According to Bancroft, the Airmen will support aeromedical evacuation by removing patients from ambulances, processing them for air movement, and transporting them to military aircraft to evacuate out of the area.
This effort marks the first deployment for Airman First Class Logan Crady, a new air transportation specialist for the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, who volunteered for the mission because of the opportunity it provides to help people in need while also learning more about his job.
“I’m excited to get to work and learn the equipment more.” Crady said. “And we’re doing something truly meaningful — we’re saving people and helping people out.”
As the only contingency response group in the Air National Guard, the Kentucky unit is in a unique position to respond to homeland disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Bancroft said.
“The ability to go and do a complete airfield assessment and then literally open a contingency airbase for an emergency like this, that is primarily a CRG responsibility,” Bancroft said. “In the Guard, we’re the only group qualified to do that.
“We’re very proud to be here,” Bancroft continued. “This is what we train for 365 days a year. This is why we signed up. It’s a select group of people that have the opportunity to be in this unit. For us to go out and exercise what we do for a living is a very proud time for us.”