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Airmen Prepare for Rescue Support in Gustav’s Aftermath

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
Special to American Forces Press Service

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga., Sept. 2, 2008 – During the Labor Day weekend, airmen from the 23rd Wing here kept their eye on Hurricane Gustav and an ear to the phone.

"We've been alerted by the United States Northern Command to prepare for operations as part of the national response framework for Hurricane Gustav," Air Force Col. Kenneth E. Todorov, 23rd Wing commander, said. "The wing is fully energized to support and carry out any and all rescue operations. Our crews are the finest rescue crews in the world -- combat and peacetime."

All of the wing's groups -- from the 23rd Medical Group here to the 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. -- worked over the holiday weekend to ensure the wing was ready to respond to the call.

"We've been reviewing medical records to ensure tasked personnel are medically qualified to go," said Air Force Col. Loraine H. Anderson, 23rd Medical Group commander.

Hundreds of Moody airmen could find themselves responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav within the next few days.

"Our flight crews are ready," said Air Force Col. Darryle J. Grimes, 347th Rescue Group commander. "As soon as the word comes down, we can move in to assist the Gulf Coast."

Depending on the needs of the potential rescue operations, the 23rd Maintenance Group could deploy about 120 maintainers from Moody and Davis-Monthan.

In addition to providing search-and-rescue capabilities along with mission support personnel, Moody possibly could house up to 300 Defense Department personnel from surrounding bases who may have been affected by the storm.

"Although we hope that in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav the Gulf Coast won't require assistance from our rescue teams, the Flying Tigers are ready to support," Todorov said. "As we showed in 2005 when the wing was responsible for more than 1,700 lives saved, we are here to answer our nation's call."

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres serves in the 23rd Wing Public Affairs Office.)

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