Kentucky Air Guardsmen to support earthquake-relief efforts in Japan
By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 17, 2011
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Two members of the Kentucky Air National Guard have been tapped to support the U.S. military's earthquake-relief efforts in Japan.
Col. Warren Hurst, commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group, will deploy March 18 to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he will serve as the Deputy Director of Mobility Forces for Pacific Air Forces. He will be accompanied by Maj. Bruce Bancroft, who will serve as an executive officer during the mission.
Colonel Hurst will be responsible for helping direct the airflow of relief supplies and equipment into Japan, which was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 30-foot-tall tsunami on March 11, causing widespread devastation.
"I'm pleased to be contributing to the relief effort in whatever way I can," Colonel Hurst said. "People helping people is the most rewarding kind of mission you can perform. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan."
Colonel Hurst is no stranger to disaster-response operations. He served as Director of Mobility Forces to Air Forces Northern in 2010 after a deadly earthquake struck Haiti. Working from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Colonel Hurst coordinated the airflow of hundreds of tons of relief supplies to airlift hubs in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as part of Operation Unified Response. He also lead the 123rd Contingency Response Group when it conducted relief operations in rural Kentucky in 2009 following an ice storm that paralyzed the Commonwealth, leading to the largest call-up of National Guard forces in state history.
"This is just another example of Kentucky Airmen and Soldiers serving in the critical enabling role to benefit those in less fortunate circumstances," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant general. "Colonel Hurst served in a similar capacity during the earthquake response in Haiti. He's one of the U.S. Air Force's 'go-to' officers in these kinds of contingency operations."
More than 17,000 U.S. service members are currently supporting relief efforts in Japan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Personnel are delivering food, water and equipment, conducting debris-removal operations and providing high-pressure water pumps to cool nuclear reactors at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is in danger of suffering a catastrophic meltdown.