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ANG support key to media coverage of hurricanes

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chelsea Smith
  • 165th Airlift Wing
"Communicating the military mission lets those affected by disaster know that they are not forgotten and help is underway."

That's what Kim Cornett, a senior producer at NBC News said Sept. 26 about working with the Air National Guard to bring national media coverage to the humanitarian disasters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Guard Bureau authorized media to embed with military fights on hurricane operations so long as space is available and it does not affect the primary mission.

As of today, airlift to the disaster areas from Savannah totaled 238,000 pounds of cargo and 247 passengers, including national and local media. More than 750 Air National Guard Airmen are deployed to Joint Operations Area - Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"The time and effort to coordinate travel and interviews with Airmen have been invaluable," Cornett said.

The 165th Airlift Wing and other wings shuttled media crews on C-130 cargo aircraft to areas with limited to no commercial flights and communications. National outlets such as NBC News Nightly with Lester Holt, Fox News with Geraldo Rivera, The Daily Beast and the Washington Post relied on the National Guard to reach the compelling stories of disaster-affected people.

Behind the scenes, a network of public affairs professionals coordinated logistics, interviews, flights and media escort needed to handle a surge of media activity. National Guard Airmen and Soldiers here and downrange were integral mouthpieces for the missions in news reports to millions of television and internet viewers.

"Our public affairs teams have been doing an outstanding job handling the influx of media attention and accommodating their requirements," said Col. Jim Marren, wing commander.

"We appreciate local and national media who've helped amplify our response efforts and tell the Air National Guard story," Marren said.