After two months in the far east, the second rotation of Wyoming Air National Guard members deployed to Indonesia to assist that country in fighting forest fires is expected to return to Wyoming by the end of the week after brief stops in Singapore and U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii. In response to Secretary of Defense William Cohen's direction for humanitarian support to fight fires on Oct. 12, the 153rd Airlift Wing sent three C-130s and a total of 96 service members to Indonesia.
The mission provided the National Guard a first-time opportunity to fight forest fires internationally while using the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS). Two of the C-130s were equipped with the U.S. Forest Service-owned MAFFS to douse fires from the air. The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing is one of only four in the nation equipped to perform aerial fire fighting missions.
"As of Dec. 2 , we have flown 250 sorties in 316.5 flying hours. We were able to assist the Indonesians in saving homes and tropical rain forests. We have worked with the Indonesian government as well as the U.S. Forest service to battle the thousands of blazes in this country," said Col. Bob Rodekohr, commander of the 153rd.