Military Conducts Search and Rescue Missions on U.S. Virgin Islands After Hurricane Irma

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Photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer/123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Five Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron conduct search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The Airmen have controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

The Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing conducted a search and rescue mission on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean last week.

A group of five airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing’s Special Tactics Squadron has been conducting search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, U.S. military officials said on Monday.

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As of Sunday night, the airmen “controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation,” according to Maj. Aaron Zamora, operations officer for Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

It wasn’t immediately known how many people were rescued. Here’s video and photos of a search and rescue mission over St. John:

Photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer/123rd Airlift Wing Public AffairsAirmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron controll a helicopter landing zone on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The Airmen have controlled multiple landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

Photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer/123rd Airlift Wing Public AffairsFive Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron conduct search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The Airmen have controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

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Five Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron conduct search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The Airmen have controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

Five Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron conduct search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The Airmen have controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

Five Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron conduct search-and-rescue missions on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, in conjunction with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The Airmen have controlled multiple helicopter landing zones and evacuated numerous victims by hoisting them to Kentucky Army Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for evacuation.

The Kentucky Air Guard currently has more than 60 Airmen deployed to Florida and the Caribbean in support of Hurricane Irma rescue operations, officials said. National Air Guard units from New York and Puerto Rico are also assisting in the operations.

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This video shows an HH-60 Pave Hawk and C-130H Hercules supporting another search and rescue mission with several people on board in the U.S. Virgin Islands, though the exact location is unclear:

“I could not be more proud of the Kentucky Air National Guardsmen who volunteered to stand up for these critical missions,” said Col. David Mounkes, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, the parent unit of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and 165th Airlift Squadron. “These are the types of missions we train for constantly, and our airmen are always ready to help out at a moment’s notice anywhere in the world.”

Damage to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island, has been extensive, though the island of St. Croix was spared the worst of the Category 5 hurricane’s powerful winds. When the hurricane hit on Sept. 6, it had maximum sustained winds of 185 miles an hour.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is also on site helping distribute food and water.

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