September 6th, 2017 10:35 EST
Guardsmen Head Toward Hurricane Irma
As Hurricane Irma bears down on the Caribbean today, National Guard units are sending personnel to aid civilian authorities in the storms path.
Irma has been classified as a Category 5 storm with maximum winds of 175 mph, and states of emergency have been declared in Florida and Puerto Rico.
The Illinois National Guard`s 182nd Airlift Wing sent a Peoria-based C-130 Hercules aircraft and a seven-member crew to the U.S. Virgin Islands to deliver key response capabilities ahead of the storm`s anticipated arrival. The C-130 stopped en route in Colorado to pick up a National Guard Bureau joint enabling team, which coordinates support to areas affected by natural disasters or other emergencies through advanced communications equipment and experts in disaster response operations, intelligence, logistics, personnel and public affairs.
Yesterday, the Rhode Island Air National Guard`s 143rd Airlift Wing sent a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and aircrew to support the preparation effort. The airmen first headed to New Jersey, where the crew will load boxes of packaged meals, and will transport the cargo to St. Croix and St. Thomas ahead of the forecasted storm.
Harvey Recovery Continues
Meanwhile, recovery from Hurricane Harvey continues in Texas, where more than 18,000 National Guard personnel were on duty.
Ten soldiers from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard left Fort Indiantown Gap on Sept. 1 in two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, to deliver food and water to stranded people and rescue those still in need.
On Aug. 31, an Illinois Air Guard C-130 from the 182nd Airlift Wing joined the federal Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts and has been transporting people, supplies and equipment.
By the early morning of Sept. 2, that crew had transported more than 60 evacuees out of danger, including 20 children, four disabled adults and some 3,000 pounds of personal belongings. The crew also had delivered more than 7,500 pounds of relief supplies and equipment.
In addition, two Illinois Air Guard airmen from the Springfield -based 183rd Wing`s183rd Air Mobility Squadron traveled Sept. 1 to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to assist 1st Air Force in the operations center that is coordinating the Air Force`s portion of the relief efforts.
Also on Sept. 1, two C-130 Hercules aircraft and 14 more airmen deployed from the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville to fly humanitarian aid and airlift evacuation missions in Texas.
"Like their forebears, the Minutemen, these airmen have put their regular lives on hold to help our neighbors in need," said Army Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes Jr., the Illinois adjutant general. "We thank them for their service and we thank their families and employers." (The National Guard offices of Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island contributed to this article.)
Photo Credit: Wikipedia