Oregon Air National Guard going to Texas for storm relief - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Air National Guard going to Texas for storm relief

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Roughly 15 members of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 125th Special Tactics Squadron will be flying to Ellington Field in Houston to help with storm relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey.

Two C-130’s will be flying to the region either late Monday or sometime Tuesday morning – one loaded with personnel, the other with communications equipment, inflatable boats and other supplies.

They’ll be working on two missions: supporting local air bases to establish runways or landing zones to allow resources and disaster supplies to be flown in, and rescuing as many people as possible.

“You’ve got the flooding, you’ve got downed power lines, you’ve got the pandemonium and chaos of the situation. [This team is] well-versed and well-practiced in things like this at home and abroad,” said Col. Duke Pirak, the Commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing. “When we have the opportunity to help other Americans here at home, these guys and gals just jump at the chance, they love to do it and I’m quite proud of them.”

It’s not yet clear how long the teams will be on the ground, but they’ll be actively helping in search and recovery missions, rescuing people who may be stranded in the flooding and recovering those who have died in the flood waters.

“It’s obviously a tremendous tragedy but the best thing we can think of to affect things is to send our force down there and help in any way possible,” said Lt. Col. TJ Awada, the Commander of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron. “We’ll be going down there trying to find as many people as possible.”

Members of the Oregon Air National Guard responded to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and commanders say they learned valuable lessons there that will help them with this mission.

“It’s absolutely devastating to me personally, it’s devastating to all Americans,” Col. Pirak added. “I just am so proud of our ability to do our part to help them out, and I absolutely know the Texas National Guard would do the same for Oregonians if it ever happened here.”

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