By Airman 1st Class Joshua R. Maund, Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs
/ Published September 20, 2018
Members of Joint Base Charleston help direct a Pennsylvania Army National Guard Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team CH-47F Chinook as part of a staging effort for Hurricane Florence rescue operations Sept. 14, 2018.
The Pennsylvania National Guard sent a CH-47F Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawks to Charleston together with their flight crews and rescue technicians, to position itself to support the state of South Carolina for rapid helicopter rescue response.
Senior Airman Marlon Natty, 334th Air Expeditionary Group crew chief, pulls the chocks from under an HH-60G Pave Hawk as it prepares for an area familiarization flight, Sept. 17, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The 334th AEG is an expeditionary search and rescue unit, which is pre-positioned to provide relief in the wake of tropical storm Florence. Comprised of 23d Wing and 920th Rescue Wing personnel and assets, the 334th AEG is ready to perform surface, fixed wing and rotary SAR operations if called upon.
A pararescueman assigned to the 334th Air Expeditionary Group scans the coastline, Sept. 16, 2018, in the skies over South Carolina. The 334th AEG is an expeditionary search and rescue unit, which is pre-positioned to provide relief in the wake of tropical storm Florence. Comprised of 23d Wing and 920th Rescue Wing personnel and assets, the 334th AEG is ready to perform surface, fixed wing and rotary SAR operations when needed.
HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter aircrew Airmen with the 334th Air Expeditionary Group, sit alert on the Joint Base Charleston, S.C., flightline Sept. 16, 2018. The 334th AEG is comprised of Airmen and assets from the 920th Rescue Wing (Patrick Air Force Base, Florida) and the 23d Wing (Moody Air Force Base, Georgia) which stand ready to provide search-and-rescue relief efforts in South Carolina to execute search and rescue operations for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency receive trucks filled with goods and commodities in support of Hurricane Florence relief efforts Sept. 17, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston’s North Auxiliary Airfield located in the town of North, S.C. The NAAF serves as a staging area where humanitarian assets are gathered and sent out to areas affected by Hurricane Florence.
Goods and commodities are stored at Joint Base Charleston’s North Auxiliary Airfield located in the town of North, S.C.. Sept. 17, 2018, in support of Hurricane Florence relief efforts. The NAAF serves as a staging area where humanitarian assets are gathered and sent out to areas affected by Hurricane Florence.
Joint Base Charleston joined the relief efforts to help victims of Hurricane Florence by becoming a staging location for various rescue and relief units as of Sept. 14, 2018.
The teams standing by for the efforts consisted of the 334th Air Expeditionary Group, the South Carolina and Pennsylvania Army National Guard Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The proximity of Charleston to the affected area, the services readily available by the base and the local community, the aircraft support services/facilities, coupled with the fact that our Airmen at Joint Base Charleston are all Carolinians wanting to help their fellow neighbors makes Joint Base Charleston a great location to stage out of,” said Lt. Col. Michael Coppola, 628th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “Airmen and Sailors from Joint Base Charleston accepted over 250 rescue personnel, a military convoy, two C-130 missions, one C-17 mission, and seven helicopters to support rescue operations in the Carolinas.”
Within 36 hours of a tasking notification from U.S. Northern Command, multiple units from MoodyAir Force Base and Patrick AFB from Georgia and Florida, respectively, teamed up to form the mobile 334th AEG. The group performed Total Force integration in real time by integrating multiple aircraft, search and rescue personnel and support elements to mobilize and arrive at Joint Base Charleston’s flight line conducting 24-hour search and rescue alert. Although short notice, the base’s ride-out teams quickly accommodated the group’s requirements.
“Joint Base Charleston has been phenomenal at facilitating us,” said Col. Bryan Creel, 334th AEG commander. “They went from no one being on the base, then they got word that we were looking to come here, so they were literally opening the base gates and pushing people out to the airfield to open the tower, open refuel…everything just to get us in.”
The relief efforts also included the Pennsylvania and South Carolina Army National Guard HART teams. These civilian search and rescue specialists with military aviation capabilities use aircraft and rescue swimmers to aid in the response efforts where other means of rescue will not suffice.
“Pennsylvania Guard sent four helicopters down here to Joint Base Charleston,” said Master Sgt. George Roach, 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs broadcaster. “In times like these, active, guard and reserve components come together to create a very cohesive force.”
Further north from the Air Base, FEMA set up shop at North Auxiliary Airfield in North, South Carolina, hauling hundreds of trailers full of supplies to aid the North Carolina Army National Guard with logistical support.
However, this isn’t the first time FEMA has staged out of North Field. The airfield’s strategic location and supporting personnel makes it a hub for hurricane relief year after year.
“Joint Base Charleston has taken great care of us,” said Bond Luddeke, FEMA Region IV Logistics Distribution Manager. “They are a great partner to have in a response effort like this. We are responding with the mindset that it is our own families that have been affected. We are here to help return those affected to a state of normalcy as soon as possible.”