Kentucky Air Guard deploys 11-person Fatality Search and Recovery Team in wake of Florence

  • Published
  • By Maj. Allison Stephens
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
At the request of North Carolina public health officials and to augment the North Carolina Medical Examiner, the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Fatality Search and Recovery Team deployed 11 members to North Carolina today in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

North Carolina has been inundated by massive flooding over the past three days, with the storm claiming at least 18 lives so far.

The Kentucky Air Guardsmen convoyed from Louisville with a variety of disaster-response equipment including specialized protective suits, rafts and trailers, as well as their own food and water supply, according to Capt. Jonathan Fairbanks, the team’s officer in charge. It is anticipated that the Airmen will be paired with a cadaver-dog search team.

Fairbanks said his team is well-prepared for the sensitive tasking.

“Our mission is to recover those who have lost their lives, and we have the training and resources to return them back to their families with dignity and respect,” Fairbanks said.

The Kentucky Guard has already deployed two other units in support of relief efforts — the Kentucky Air Guard’s Louisville-based 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and the Kentucky Army Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade from Frankfort.

Other units from the Kentucky Air Guard are prepared for additional taskings, said Col. Jeffrey Wilkinson, commander of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing.

“Our Airmen are on a heightened state of readiness so they can respond rapidly as needed,” Wilkinson said. “Disaster response is one of our key missions, and we are prepared to provide any assistance necessary.”