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Oklahoma ANG wing sends aid to neighbors for Hurricane Harvey

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kasey M. Phipps
  • 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

About 40 Airmen from the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 137th Special Operations Wing departed Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Aug. 29, 2017, to support the Texas Military Department and Texas Emergency Management in relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Deploying in two waves, the Airmen and their equipment were picked up by a C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 136th Airlift Wing out of Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Carswell Field, Texas, and deployed to the same location to wait for further instruction.

“What we’re doing today is responding to an assistance agreement that we have with our brothers and sisters in Texas to bring aide to those in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey,” said Col. Devin R. Wooden, 137 SOW commander. “We will be there as long as they need us.”

The first unit, composed of 11 Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Medical Group, will offer their expertise and portable medical equipment to help evacuate patients from affected medical care facilities.

“The Medical Group has been requested by Texas Emergency Management to assist with hospital and nursing home patient evacuation from the Houston area,” said Col. Keith Reed, 137 SOMDG commander. “Our En Route Patient Staging System (ERPSS) includes equipment and medical personnel specially trained to stage and prepare patients for military air transport to facilities outside the affected area. We will partner with Texas Air National Guard medical personnel and work until this particular need is met.”

The Airmen from 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, who deployed later the same day, comprised five aeromedical evacuation aircrews and about 30 Airmen in total. They will assist in patient care and stabilization during air transport out of the heavily impacted areas.

The last time Airmen from the 137 SOW deployed in support of domestic operations was in 2013 following the May 20 tornado that ripped through Oklahoma. As an Air National Guard unit, the 137 SOW’s Airmen volunteered to put full-time, mostly civilian jobs on hold to help friends and neighbors in the capacities they have witnessed and trained so often for.

“It’s been said that through the Oklahoma City bombing and tornadoes we’ve had over the last few decades, there is an Oklahoma Standard,” said Wooden. “To be ready and prepared to share some of that Oklahoma Standard with our brothers and sisters to the South and help them in this time of need is something we’re all looking forward to doing.”