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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 698-97
December 30, 1997

PRESIDENT LAUDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD EFFORTS

Five Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft are responding to a Presidential call to support disaster response efforts in New Mexico by providing more than 50,000 pounds of feed to cattle stranded by recent blizzards in the southeast part of that state.

So far, more than 25,000 cattle have died because of the storms. Authorities are estimating the loss of 1,000 head of cattle daily because ranchers are unable to reach them in the fields.

President William J. Clinton today praised the efforts of Air National Guard units from Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming as they moved swiftly to support a request from Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico to assist National Guard units already at work alleviating human suffering in those counties most severely affected by the snowstorm.

"I am pleased that the Air National Guard has responded so promptly to this difficult situation," said President Clinton. "It is performing an important mission for many New Mexicans in their time of need."

The President also praised James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the New Mexico congressional delegation for their assistance in quickly coordinating a state and federal response to this disaster.

The 137th Airlift Wing from Oklahoma City is the lead unit supporting the mission with three aircraft and more than 50 personnel scheduled to participate. Two additional C-130s are being provided by the 136th AW, Dallas, Texas and the 153rd AW, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Operations began today and are expected to continue through New Year's Day.