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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2012

California Air National Guard helicopter crews join in California wildfire fight

By Courtesy of the California National Guard

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. - Helicopter aircrews from the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing, currently based out of Tehachapi Municipal Airport, Calif., have joined the fight against the Jawbone Complex Fire using two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to drop almost 60,000 gallons of water on the Kern County fire over the past three days.

"Our HH-60G rescue helicopters are performing precision air drops of water to help contain wildfires in California," said Air Force Col. Steven J. Butow, commander of the 129th Rescue Wing. "This is a great example of the use of airpower in the homeland to save lives and property."

Earlier this year aircrews from the wing earned their annual certification for performing water bucket drops.

The primary mission of the wing is to rapidly deploy to conduct personnel recovery operations over land and sea, day and night, in both hostile and non-hostile environments beyond the capability of others to do so.

Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, the unit has performed a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including responding to distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations.

Over the course of its history, the 129th Rescue Wing has rescued nearly a thousand people.

Increased wildfire activity in California has prompted the additional response. Under a modified request for assistance from the U.S. Forest Service received Aug. 11, two C-130s from the Wyoming Air Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing joined C-130's from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing operating from Boise Air Terminal, in Idaho. One C-130 from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing and one from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing, operating from McClellan Air Tanker Base, in Sacramento, Calif., also joined the California wildfire fight.