By Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios
Air Force News Agency
SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) (08/31/08) - An Air National Guard C-130 Hercules flew in to San Antonio Aug. 30 carrying 23 evacuees from Beaumont, Texas.
The aircrew was from the 181st Airlift Squadron at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The members on the aircraft were activated for evacuation relief efforts due to Hurricane Gustav approaching the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Gustav is currently a Category 4 with sustained winds of 150 mph and is expected to hit Gulf Coast on Sep. 1 or 2.
Staff Sgt. Adam Davis, a Texas Air National Guardsman from the 181st AS, said he got recalled around 11a.m. and immediately flew to Beaumont. He said the medivac personnel had crews ready to go. Sergeant Davis helped load patients onto the aircraft to bring them to San Antonio.
"The evacuees seemed a little nervous about the flight, but everyone is glad that we are here," Sargeant Davis said. "They know we are doing them a favor and trying to get them out of harm's way. This is what I signed up to do. It's real-world."
Evacuees were very happy to see the Airmen helping them out in the relief efforts.
"I'm just thankful that the military were able to pick us up," said Frances Boudoin, an evacuee from Beaumont. "Things are going well. The military has been great!"
Miss Boudoin, a veteran of hurricane relief efforts, said that things have been real hectic. She was at home with her mom who has a hospital bed at home. She said they were picked up by an ambulance and were brought to the airport in Beaumont. She said approximately 300 people are waiting to get out of Beaumont.
Brig. Gen. Leonard A. "Len" Patrick, commander of the 37th Training Wing at Lackland AFB, Texas, was very thrilled with the progress of the beginning stages of the hurricane relief efforts.
"Lackland's role is vitally important." he said.
General Patrick said the former Kelly Air Force Base is a staging base for FEMA Region 6. He explained that if a storm hits the Gulf Coast, all response forces will be staged from San Antonio and then go down into that region. In fact, there are a number of buses waiting to go into the Corpus Christi and Galveston area if necessary to pull Texans out.
Also, San Antonio is a reception point for Department of Defense employees from the gulf region to evacuate. He mentioned that with (Lackland AFB's) proximity to the Gulf Coast, they have a lot of capability.
General Patrick said Kelly AFB has the longest serving runway in the United States Air Force. He also pointed out that the hurricane relief efforts are supported by the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland AFB, the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and more than 49,000 people who work in San Antonio and 70 associated units. He expressed his appreciation to all of those playing a role in this humanitarian effort.
"We kicked off first with a number of numerous activities to prevent the devastation of the past hurricanes in the gulf region," said the general. "The Air National Guard is beginning to fly patients from East Texas where the potential flooding is great in their hospitals and their facilities. The port of San Antonio and city of San Antonio have accepted these patients and are going to put them throughout the city.
"The Air Guard (aircrews) are going to fly 20 of these missions. In addition to the next couple of days, there will be civilian airlift to Kelly/Lackland AFB. For folks who are living in New Orleans and civilians who don't want to stay, they also will be received by the city of San Antonio.
"I'm very proud that this is a Team Lackland event. There are many agencies on this installation, eight wing equivalents, 70 other associated units. We are all playing in this humanitarian operation in one form or another. You can see on the faces of the men and women, all they want to do is help," General Patrick said.