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Wisconsin National Guard helps battle California wildfires

By Maj. Joe Trovato | Wisconsin National Guard | Sept. 14, 2020

MADISON, Wis. — Two Wisconsin National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 15 Soldiers flew to California to assist the California National Guard as it battles wildfires raging across the state.

The aircraft and crews and maintenance personnel from the Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation, departed Madison for California Sept. 11 after Wisconsin received an Emergency Management Assistance Compact – or EMAC - request from California.

The California National Guard is serving in support of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The crews from the Wisconsin National Guard will report to the California Guard and local civil authorities for mission requirements. The crews are prepared to employ water buckets to battle fires and take on any other missions.

“This is what we train for,” said. Lt. Col. Kurt Southworth, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation. “We regularly train for search and rescue, fire suppression, and many other missions to support our fellow citizens and communities, so when this call came in, our crews were ready to answer the call in a short amount of time. I’m proud of our Soldiers and their dedication to serving our state and nation. This is why we serve and what it means to be a Citizen-Soldier.”

EMAC is a mutual aid agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during declared states of emergency. It allows other states to provide resources such as National Guard troops and equipment to the requesting state. The troops deploying to California are doing so in a State Active Duty status.