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Kentucky Air National Guard unit deploys to support Haitian relief effort

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing prepare to load equipment and relief supplies onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 22, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The flight was one of three C-130s that left from the unit Jan. 22, along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen. The troops are establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing prepare to load equipment and relief supplies onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 22, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The flight was one of three C-130s that left from the unit Jan. 22, along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen. The troops are establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

A pick-up truck is loaded onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 21, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s left from the unit Jan. 22, 2010 along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen to establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

A pick-up truck is loaded onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 21, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s left from the unit Jan. 22, 2010 along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen to establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

A member of the news media shoots video as the 123rd Airlift Wing prepares to load equipment and relief supplies onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 22, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The flight was one of three C-130s that left from the unit today, along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen. The troops are establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

A member of the news media shoots video as the 123rd Airlift Wing prepares to load equipment and relief supplies onto a C-130 aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 22, 2010, for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. The flight was one of three C-130s that left from the unit today, along with approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen. The troops are establishing an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing, briefs members of the news media Jan. 22, 2010, about the unit's deployment to the Dominican Republic to provide relief for victim's of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen deployed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport. The hub will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. The Kentucky wing is the first Air National Guard unit to be deployed for such a mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing, briefs members of the news media Jan. 22, 2010, about the unit's deployment to the Dominican Republic to provide relief for victim's of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen deployed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport. The hub will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. The Kentucky wing is the first Air National Guard unit to be deployed for such a mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing are issued body armor Jan. 21, 2010, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., in preparation for a flight to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22, 2010, as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen are deploying to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing are issued body armor Jan. 21, 2010, at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., in preparation for a flight to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22, 2010, as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen are deploying to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load gear for a deployment from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 21, 2010, in preparation for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit on Jan. 22, 2010, to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load gear Jan. 21, 2010, for a deployment from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit on Jan. 22, 2010, to establish an air cargo hub at Maria Montez International Airport that will be responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard deployed three C-130 aircraft and approximately 45 members of its 123rd Contingency Readiness Group today in support of Operation Unified Response, the humanitarian relief operation in Haiti.

Described as an "airbase in a box," the 123rd CRG has all the personnel, training and equipment needed to deploy to a remote site, open a runway and establish airfield operations so that aid or troops can begin to flow into affected areas.

"This is exactly the type of mission we train for," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky. "The 123rd CRG possesses the capabilities needed to bring relief to the people of Haiti. We have the right people and the right resources to do what must be done."

The Kentucky Airmen began departing from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base at 6 a.m. Their mission is to establish an airbase in the Dominican Republic to manage air traffic in support of the relief effort. The Kentucky Air Guard C-130s also will fly logistical support missions into Haiti as needed.

"We will be the first National Guard unit supporting this mission," said Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, the 123rd CRG's parent unit.

The Contingency Response Group provides a broad spectrum of specialties, including airfield command and control, security, and ramp and cargo operations.

"This isn't the first dance these Airmen have attended," Colonel Nelson said. "Most of them have operational experience from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as from stateside operations in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and during last year's ice storm in Western Kentucky."

The 123rd Airlift Wing has a unique combination of capabilities that allow it to immediately open an airfield for mass airlift operations, provide search-and-rescue functions and offer expeditionary medical support. Only the Kentucky Air National Guard houses all these capabilities in one location along with the C-130 aircraft necessary for delivery.

The Kentucky National Guard also mobilized three Airmen on Saturday to support humanitarian relief operations in Haiti, and a C-130 Hercules air transport was dispatched Thursday to perform an airdrop resupply mission.