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Wing stands alert for Hurricane Irene

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as the unit prepares to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where Kentucky Airmen were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as the unit prepares to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where Kentucky Airmen were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron load Zodiac motorboats onto a trailer as the unit prepares to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. Pararescuemen for the 123rd STS are trained to conduct a variety recovery missions and provide emergency medical care. They deploy with a range of dedicated rescue equipment like Zodiac motorboats in order to carry out a broad spectrum of operations. The 123rd STS has been instrumental in hurricane recovery operations before, conducting rescue missions and operating a helicopter landing zone in New Orleans that airlifted more than 11,000 people to safety following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron load Zodiac motorboats onto a trailer as the unit prepares to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. Pararescuemen for the 123rd STS are trained to conduct a variety recovery missions and provide emergency medical care. They deploy with a range of dedicated rescue equipment like Zodiac motorboats in order to carry out a broad spectrum of operations. The 123rd STS has been instrumental in hurricane recovery operations before, conducting rescue missions and operating a helicopter landing zone in New Orleans that airlifted more than 11,000 people to safety following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Loadmasters from the 165th Airlift Squadron guide a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Loadmasters from the 165th Airlift Squadron guide a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert, a loadmaster from the 165th Airlift Squadron, guides a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert, a loadmaster from the 165th Airlift Squadron, guides a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear onto a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert, a loadmaster from the 165th Airlift Squadron, uses chains to secure a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear to a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Senior Master Sgt. John Siebert, a loadmaster from the 165th Airlift Squadron, uses chains to secure a truck and trailer packed with rescue gear to a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 as Airmen prepare to deploy Sept. 28, 2011, from Louisville, Ky., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where they were expected to stage for rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. The deployment was called off just prior to the Airmen's departure when damage from Irene was found to be less extensive than anticipated. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD , LOUISVILLE, Ky -- The National Guard Bureau placed 24 Kentucky aircrew members and two C-130 aircraft on alert here Aug. 26 to 29 to fly relief missions across the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Meanwhile, more than 15 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron were slated to deploy to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Aug. 28 to carry out water rescue missions as directed by state and federal officials.

The airlift sorties ultimately weren't needed, however, and the special tactics deployment was canceled just hours before the team was set to take off from Louisville, said Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing.

"Thankfully, the damage along the East Coast from Hurricane Irene wasn't as bad as initially anticipated, and officials in the affected states determined that they didn't need our assistance," Nelson explained.

"Nevertheless, the alert posture was good training for every Airman in the wing. As always, the Kentucky Air National Guard stands ready to answer our nation's call for assistance, any time, anywhere."

The wing's special tactics troops include pararescuemen who are specially trained in water rescue missions and emergency medical care.

They typically deploy with a range of dedicated rescue equipment like Zodiac motorboats and diving gear in order to carry out a broad spectrum of relief and recovery operations.

Other Airmen in the unit include Combat Controllers, who have the capability of establishing air traffic control at any location, from a concrete landing strip at a non-functional airport to an improvised helicopter landing zone on a highway overpass.

The unit has been instrumental in hurricane recovery operations before, conducting rescue missions and operating a helicopter landing zone in New Orleans that airlifted more than 11,000 people to safety following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"We're always prepared to conduct a full range of rescue operations anywhere in the United States as directed by civil authorities," said Lt. Col. Jeff Wilkinson, the unit's commander.