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NEWS | Oct. 30, 2012

Massachusetts National Guard downsizing relief efforts

By Massachusetts National Guard

MILFORD, Mass. - The Massachusetts National Guard continues to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts by responding to a request for assistance with search and rescue efforts in New Jersey.

The Massachusetts National Guard sent two HH60M Medevac Helicopters and flight crews from Detachment 1, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, to support search and rescue efforts in New Jersey. The helicopters are capable of hoisting individuals to safety and are equipped to stabilize patients while in flight.

The majority of the 1,400 Guardsmen activated for Hurricane Sandy have begun the process of returning to home station. However, many remain on hand for support operations.

The sandbag preparation operations in Freetown and Bourne were concluded after filling and palletizing more than 6,500 sandbags in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation-Highway Division.

Two other Guard helicopters escorted state officials to survey hurricane damage, while 21 Airmen are providing photographic support for damage assessment teams.

Last night, the state fire marshal called members of the 1st Civil Support Team to New Bedford to monitor hazardous material but local first responders determined they did not need assistance.

Although the worst of the weather has passed Massachusetts, Taskforce Patriot forces remains ready to assist civilian authorities to provide support for storm relief operations as needed throughout relief areas.

Since Monday, more than 1,000 Guardsmen have been poised and ready to clear debris for emergency vehicles, provide power generation, security and to support requests from communities to help citizens following the aftermath of the storm.

"As the state's first military responder, we train and coordinate with local, state and federal emergency responders to prepare for emergency situations. We are always ready to put that training to use. While I am thankful that the storm wasn't as bad as anticipated here in Massachusetts, many lives were lost during this week's storm and other areas were severely affected. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families mourning their loved ones and also with communities facing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy," said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the state's Adjutant General.

Task Force Patriot was commanded by Lt. Col. George Harrington and consists of Soldiers from the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Reading and the 79th Troop Command from Rehoboth.