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Kentucky Air National Guard combat controllers assist with parachute drops, airfield operations in Haiti

U.S. Air Force combat controllers from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., survey a drop zone before humanitarian aid is airdropped Jan. 18, 2010, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. U.S. Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the city Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr./Released)

A combat controller from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, right, teams up with his active-duty counterpart to establish a relief-supply drop zone near Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan 18, 2010. Nearly 50 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard have been deployed for the relief effort following a magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the city on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid into the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18, 2010. The air delivery mission was conducted by a Charleston Air Force Base C-17 and an aircrew with the base's 16th Airlift Squadron as test to determine if future air delivery missions would be possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr./Released)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airdrops humanitarian aid into the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. The airdrop was coordinated by special tactics operators from the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Two combat controllers from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123d Special Tactics Squadron have been hard at work since arriving here Jan. 16, setting up drop zones and helicopter landing zones, and providing airfield operations and air traffic control at Port-au-Prince International Airport.

The airmen are augmenting a special tactics team from the 720th Special Tactics Group, based at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Their names are not being released as part of the Department of Defense policy protecting the identity of special operations group members.

"These Airmen are doing a remarkable job," said Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, public affairs officer for the Kentucky National Guard, speaking from the Dominican Republic. "In addition to their work at Port-au-Prince, they have scoured the country in helicopters to identify and survey suitable drop zones for the airdrop of relief supplies in otherwise unreachable areas.

"The combat controllers have to take careful consideration to ensure safety for the aircraft, Haitian citizens on the ground and remaining structures. They are doing everything possible to guarantee the relief makes it into the hands of those who are desperately in need. Last Tuesday, one of the combat controllers coordinated the first military C-17 airdrop of relief supplies into Haiti."

Both Airmen are continuing with their mission to locate suitable drop zones as well as provide air traffic control at Port-au-Prince International Airport.

The deployment of the two combat controllers was followed by the deployment of 45 members of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group, which arrived yesterday in the Dominican Republic to assist in airfield operations supporting the relief effort.