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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2011

Alaska Air National Guard to provide rescue support for Hurricane Irene

By Air Force Maj. Guy Hayes Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska - The Alaska Air National Guard is ramping up this afternoon to send crews and equipment to Charleston, W. Va., to provide search and rescue assets in response to Hurricane Irene.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III flown by members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron are currently scheduled to depart Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Saturday with approximately 45 personnel from the 176thh Wing for a two-week deployment.

"We are sending two Pave Hawk helicopters with four flight crews, eight 'Guardian Angels' and 20 maintenance and support personnel to support the mission," said Air Force Lt. Col. Blake Gettys, 176th Wing Operations Group commander, Alaska Air National Guard. "We'll also be working with Guardian Angels from Kentucky and special tactics squadron personnel from Portland."

The C-17 is expected to depart Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at 10 a.m. with the goal to be on the ground ready to support rescue operations by Sunday.

"We are prepared and committed to support our fellow Americans in their time of need," said Gov. Sean Parnell.

"Our Alaska National Guardsmen are unparalleled in their experience in saving lives and they are the perfect choice to assist civilian authorities during this potential national emergency. As Alaskans, we understand what it's like to live through disasters, so when called upon, we will be ready to aid communities and Governors of states that need our support."

The Alaska Air National Guard supported relief efforts in 2008 following hurricanes Gustav, Hannah and Ike in the Gulf Coast region saving 16 lives, while flying 22 missions during a 16-day deployment.



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