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Air Force secretary praises Kentucky Air Guardsmen for role in hurricane relief operations

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27

Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, praised Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen for rescue and recovery missions in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma since Aug. 27. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Secretary of the Air Force praised Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing for their support of hurricane relief operations during a visit to the Kentucky National Guard Base here yesterday.

Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Heather Wilson met with more than 100 Kentucky Air Guardsmen, many of whom were deployed to Texas in support of rescue and recovery operations following Hurricane Harvey. The wing also deployed six more Airmen to Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands Thursday in support of rescue missions for Hurricane Irma.

“Thank you all very much,” Wilson told the Airmen, who were gathered in the base Small Air Terminal. “Thanks for everything you do. I know there’s another storm coming, and I very much appreciate everything you’re doing for the country. Stay safe out there.”

Over the past two weeks, the wing has deployed more than 80 Airmen in support of rescue and recovery operations for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. On Aug. 27, 18 Airmen were deployed from the wing’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron to conduct water-rescue operations in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey, saving 333 stranded residents. Those Airmen returned home Sept. 2.

Forty-three additional Kentucky Air Guardsmen, from the wing’s 123rd Contingency Response Group, were deployed to Houston from Aug. 30 until Monday, during which time they operated an air hub for aeromedical evacuations in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The last group of Kentucky Airmen to support Hurricane Harvey airlift operations—14 aircrew and maintenance personnel—also returned home Monday aboard two Kentucky Air Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft.

With Hurricane Irma now bearing down on Florida, the wing on Thursday deployed six members of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron to Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they will staff an emergency operations center and conduct rescue missions in the Caribbean.