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Kentucky Air Guard responds to flooding

Members of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron prepare Zodiac
motorboats and other rescue gear for deployment from the base on Sept. 23. Other
units, including the 123rd Operations Group, also were standing by. (Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora/KyANG)

Members of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron prepare Zodiac motorboats and other rescue gear for deployment from the base on Sept. 23. Other units, including the 123rd Operations Group, also were standing by. (Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora/KyANG)

Members of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron prepare Zodiac
motorboats and other rescue gear for deployment from the base on Sept. 23. Other
units, including the 123rd Operations Group, also were standing by. (Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora/KyANG)

Members of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron prepare Zodiac motorboats and other rescue gear for deployment from the base on Sept. 23. Other units, including the 123rd Operations Group, also were standing by. (Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora/KyANG)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Louisville, Ky. -- Almost 100 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard stepped forward Sept. 23 to volunteer for disaster-recovery missions after a series of violent storms drenched the state with near-record rainfall. 

The rains began pelting the commonwealth on the evening of Sept. 22 and didn't let up until the following afternoon, soaking Louisville with eight inches of rain in a 20-hour period and causing flash floods across the state that claimed at least 10 lives, according to the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. 

Within two hours of a request by government officials to stand by for assistance, the Kentucky Air Guard had scores of Airmen awaiting the call for help, said Col. Mark Kraus, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing. 

These included 19 pararescuemen and combat controllers from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, which rapidly marshalled enough rescue gear and Airmen to staff eight Zodiac rescue boats, said Chief Master Sgt. Pat Malone, superintendent of the unit's pararescue section. 

Two of the boat crews were prepared to convert to helicopter-based, swift-water rescue missions if necessary, he added. 

The 123rd Operations Group also was prepared to assist, with 16 personnel, four four-wheel-drive vehicles, three flat-bed trucks, a wrecker and multiple generators standing by. 

Although the city of Louisville evacuated several neighborhoods because of rising flood waters, additional expected rainfall never materialized, and the Air Guardsmen were told to stand down on Sept. 24. 

"Thankfully, the floodwaters receded, and our help was not required," Colonel Kraus said. "But our response showed that we were ready to go, and I couldn't be more proud of our Airmen's response to others in need. Helping to protect and serve the citizens of Kentucky when disasters threaten is one of the great benefits to being a member of the National Guard. Nobody does it better."