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The National Guard UH-60's Lifesaving Role in Natural Disasters

Aug 13, 2018

The mission of the Army National Guard is “to maintain properly trained and equipped units, available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or as otherwise needed.” The National Guard remains prepared for domestic natural or manmade disaster situations. One of its primary resources is the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The Black Hawk is a versatile helicopter, capable of carrying a fully-equipped infantry squad or a 105 mm Howitzer plus its four crewmembers.

According to the Washington National Guard’s website, the Black Hawk has been used in the US Army since 1978. Today, there are over 2,000 Black Hawks in service with the military. Another 600 have been exported. These helicopters have served in combat missions around the world, including Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq and Somalia. Black Hawks served in rescue missions in Bosnia. Here at home in the United States, when disaster strikes, the National Guard is ready with its squad of Black Hawks.

UH-60 to the Rescue Following Hurricane Isaac

In 2012, Hurricane Isaac causing flooding in Port Sulphur, LA. The generator required to power a water treatment plant needed to be replaced, but a truck could not get to the plant. A UH-60 Black Hawk carried the 2.5-ton (5000 pounds) generator to the plant so locals could get fresh water. A Black Hawk can carry a bucket filled with 600 gallons of water.

California Firefighting Partners

According to U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal, who represents California’s 24th District, the California Army National Guard uses the UH-60 Black Hawk as part of the firefighting efforts. The Black Hawks drop over one million gallons of water during each fire season, protecting people and property. Firefighters could not put out fires without the support of the Black Hawks.

Helicopters Send Aid to U.S. Virgin Islands

Last fall when two hurricanes ravaged the Caribbean, the state of Wisconsin sent UH-60 helicopters with crews and aid relief to the Virgin Islands. The crew was prepared to provide aerial medevac support for those devastated by the hurricane. A contingent of airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard had already been deployed to Puerto Rico. This new crew would assist their efforts.

Wisconsin was not the only state that sent aid to the Caribbean following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Kentucky Air National Guard sent 2 UH-60 Black Hawks with 20 soldiers who were prepared and equipped for medical evacuations. Another six airmen were deployed to assist in search and rescue. These humanitarian efforts are a key part of the National Guard’s purpose.

Texas Fires Put Out With Helicopter Assistance

Defense support might be the official title of disaster relief, but it doesn’t matter what it’s called when the Texas National Guard saves your home. In 2015, Black Hawk helicopters dropped more than one million gallons of water on fires in central Texas. It’s estimated that hundreds of homes were saved from destruction due to the efforts of the Army National Guard. Just a few days after the fires were out, rains fell so quickly and heavily, the same helicopters were used to support first responders for the flood victims.



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