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Tennessee National Guard aircrew rescues injured hiker

By Tennessee National Guard | Oct. 29, 2020

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee Army National Guard flight crew rescued an injured hiker in the Pisgah National Forest area in North Carolina early on Oct. 28.

At approximately 11:50 p.m. on Oct. 27, the Tennessee National Guard and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency were notified of an injured hiker in North Carolina in need of assistance. By 1 a.m., the Tennessee Guard learned that members of the North Carolina National Guard attempted a ground rescue but were unsuccessful due to the rugged terrain.

“Once we received the call, training kicked in and our crew was assembled and ready to fly in just two hours,” said Col. Jay Deason, state aviation officer. “This was a great opportunity to help our sister state and our fellow citizens.”

At approximately 2:15 a.m., a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter from the Tennessee National Guard’s Detachment 1, Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment, launched from Joint Base McGhee-Tyson in Knoxville to assist in the rescue.

The flight crew consisted of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Jaggers, pilot in command; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Trailson Moore, pilot; Sgt. Christopher Farrar, crew chief; and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Banta, the flight paramedic.

After rerouting to the site due to low cloud cover, the crew contacted the ground rescue team near Shining Rock, North Carolina. Within minutes, they located the injured hiker in dangerous, rough terrain on the side of a mountain and hoisted him aboard.

The hiker was flown to Hayward Regional Medical Center in North Carolina for treatment.

“This event is a great example of the many aviation support missions our Soldiers conduct throughout the year,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s adjutant general. “The fact that our aviators and flight medics were able to respond so quickly to the request is a testament to their professionalism and selfless service and no doubt has saved many lives over the years.”