An element of the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Puerto Rico Wednesday as part of the Defense Department’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission to support Hurricane Maria relief.
In the photo, soldiers with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Airmen assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron, 60th Air Mobility Wing stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., load an HH-60 medevac Blackhawk helicopter, into a C-5M Super Galaxy at Campbell Army Airfield.
The helicopter is one of eight aircraft the division deployed to Puerto Rico, Weds. Sept. 27, as part of the defense department’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission to support Hurricane Maria relief.
“There is no nobler task, no more profound depth of commitment and no selfless service greater than people helping people, Americans helping Americans,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT) commander. “This undertaking also speaks to the readiness of this division and its ability to accomplish any mission, at any time and in any place.”
The group, dubbed Team Medevac, consists of more than 70 personnel and eight HH-60 medevac Blackhawk helicopters from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT).
A C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron, 60th Air Mobility Wing and another assigned to the 68th Airlift Squadron, 433rd Airlift Wing transported the personnel and equipment to José Aponte de la Torre Airport, in Ceiba, a coastal municipality on the northeast of the island.
“We have been called forward and will provide a unique capability with our medevac helicopters,” said Maj. Kurtis P. Evick, Team Medevac commander. “We will help save lives and mitigate suffering, and we will continue to serve the American people of Puerto Rico until we are no longer needed.”
Twenty-second AS and 68th AS Airmen, and 101st ABN DIV (AASLT) Soldiers worked throughout the day, Sept. 26, to load the helicopters onto the aircraft.
Once in Puerto Rico, the Airmen and Soldiers will unload the helicopters. The Soldiers will then place the aircraft into operation and conduct test flights before conducting their first mission.
“What’s happened in Puerto Rico is nothing short of a tragedy, and I am honored to support this relief effort and to help the citizens of our nation,” said 1st. Sgt. Jason C. Straub, Team Medevac senior enlisted leader. “Our Soldiers are trained, our aircraft are prepped and we are ready to go.”
Although the division relocated many of its assets in preparation to support Hurricane Irma relief efforts, this deployment will mark the first instance of hurricane relief in the 101st ABN DIV’s (AASLT) 75-year history.
“The 101st Airborne Division has responded to numerous civil emergencies, but this is the first time we have supported commonwealth and federal officials to provide hurricane relief,” said Lt. Col. Martin L. O’Donnell, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT) spokesperson. “While noteworthy, the occurrence is not unique. For the last 75 years, the division has responded to threats near and far.”
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