Team Dover hosts Hurricane Florence relief effort enablers
By Roland Balik, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 14, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- In anticipation of Hurricane Florence making landfall on the East Coast, numerous Air National Guard units specializing in search and rescue and special tactics missions arrived at the base earlier this week to be closer to areas needing assistance.
With Dover AFB designated as an incident support base, members and equipment from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, arrived at Dover AFB Sept. 13 via their new HC-130J Combat King II and a C-17 Globemaster III to support hurricane relief efforts when called upon.
Alaska ANG units supporting the mission of the Combat King II’s role in relief efforts include the 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons, all located at JBER.
“This is the first time we will be employing this ANG aircraft in a hurricane relief effort,” said Capt. Sara Warren, 211th RQS combat systems officer. “Our primary mission is combat search and rescue but we obviously mastered and honed those skills. We use it and employ it in civil search and rescue, which is what we will be executing here.”
The 176th Wing was the first operational ANG Air Reserve Component to receive a new HC-130J aircraft, the newest iteration of the airframe.
“We also can supply fuel both in air and on the ground if needed, do traditional airlift and support air [evacuation] missions,” said Warren.
Besides basic medical supplies and communication equipment, the team also brought a Guardian Angel Air-droppable Rescue Vehicle, more commonly known as a “GAARV,” which is used by the team’s pararescuemen to navigate in rough terrain and high water.
“The GAARV is a high-performance vehicle Guardian Angel teams use to conduct personnel recovery operations during peacetime and war,” said Alaska ANG Master Sgt. Cody Inman, 212th RQS pararescue team leader. “If we need to get into those hard-hit, isolated areas where regular roads are washed out or rubble obstructs the streets, we can get in there with that vehicle and get to somebody who is in need.”
Both Warren and Inman made it clear that they are anxious to get where they are needed and start doing what they train for.
“I definitely would like to thank Dover for all the support; it’s been amazing and spot-on,” said Capt. Matthew Soukup, 211th RQS HC-130J pilot.
Other units prepositioned at Dover AFB included the New York ANG’s 106th Rescue Wing stationed at Francis S. Gabreski ANG Base, Westhampton Beach, New York, and the Oregon ANG’s 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Portland ANG Base, Oregon.