136 AW members were a success at patient evacuation from Gustav
By Staff Sgt. Ivyann N. Caraballo, 136th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
/ Published October 03, 2008
September 5, 2008 -- BEAUMONT, Texas -- The Air National Guard is a unique military branch. Each state responds to their governor's call during a state of emergency. One of the main catastrophes for state emergencies is in weather such as hurricanes. Yet it isn't that state that gets hit with the hurricanes, the sister states surrounding it, are effected too. And there are the guardsmen volunteering for the tasking.
As Senior Master Sgt. Scot W. Hrbacek, first sergeant, 136th Airlift Wing said in the in-processing briefing, "That's why we are guard members, we are here to help our local communities."
Before Hurricane Gustav was to hit the Gulf Coast, during the Labor Day weekend, evacuation procedures were in place for South Texas in Beaumont. Approximately 80 volunteers including aircrews and other members from throughout the 136th Airlift Wing along with approximately 20 members from the 166th Airlift Wing (Delaware Air National Guard), assisted in evacuating special needs patients by air lifting them to San Antonio.
"The patients were first picked up by bus from their homes and we were able to track them through a 211 list of patients who are unable to evacuate themselves," said Acting Capt. Paul L. Gallier, firefighter for Nederland Fire Department. Mr. Gallier along with about five other Nederland firefighters volunteered in transporting these patients on bus.
Once the 136 AW members landed in Beaumont, they immediately began setting up patient evacuation procedures. They worked together with the 166th Airlift Wing out of Delaware to assist in processing and preparing the patients for the flights.
There was also about six Army National Guardsmen from the 349th Personnel Service Detachment that assisted in processing the patients. "We have a tracking system that we put each of the evacuees in, for the relatives and we also identify them with a wrist band," said Sgt. Anna L. Canto, human resource specialist, 349th Personnel Service Detachment.
Watching these airmen proved they did more than the evacuation mission, they actually showed care and concern to the evacuees. Several airmen like Staff Sgt Jennifer Marrs and Technical Sgt. Nora Castro both personnel with the 136th Mission Support Group, and Master Sgt. Tammy L. Perry with the 136th Logistics Readiness Squadron, just to name a few, talked to the Beaumont evacuees, comforted them, and were constantly checking on their welfare to ensure they were doing okay.
"Our members gave personal care and went great lengths to keep the evacuees comfortable and lift their spirits up, especially when one of the aircrafts had some mechanical issues that needed to be fixed and the evacuees were waiting for hours," said Chief Ragle, chief of operations, 136th Communications Flight.
"It was also very interesting talking to the evacuees," Chief Ragle went on. "I was talking to a retired an 87-year-old Marine who was in Okinawa and it was amazing to hear his war stories," as Ragle smiles.
"The outcome of the relief effort was a success, all the 136 AW members, Army National Guard and the Delaware medical team had a good attitude and worked really hard to get these evacuees processed and on the planes," said Ragle.
"The 136AW peaked around 340 mobilized personnel. That is a huge response! Everyone performed magnificently. Everyone played a vital part," said Col. John J. Conoley. Who thanked everyone who participated in the relief effort.
"Even though answering to our Governor's activation may be inconvenient, all the airmen I spoke to were more than happy to serve the citizens of the Great State of Texas! Thank you for your unselfish service!," said Col. Conoley with much pride.