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09-093 Flood Feature: On the Ground and in the Air, the Guard is Everywhere

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- During the flooding in North Dakota this spring, the National Guard has not only had a heavy presence on the ground, but in the air.

Capt. Doug A. Larsen, commander of the 2-285th Aviation Company, said that the air support during the flood battle has been critical, but only part of the whole picture.

"We are part of the team," Larsen said. "There have been times when the air support has absolutely been critical, because of the mobility that we have, but we are there to supplement the guys on the ground."

Missions taken on by the aerial support section have included transporting personnel and supplies around the region, placing 1-ton sandbags, reconnaissance, search and rescue and river assault missions, such as spreading salt on the rivers.

Both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft have been used during missions the past few weeks, with rotary aircraft taking on 204 missions around the area, logging in a total of 537 flight hours, and fixed-wing aircraft going on 40 missions totaling 46 flight hours. At its peak, the air support section had 40 aircraft ready and taking missions.

2nd Lt. Edward Crary, a C-21 Learjet pilot with the 177th Airlift Squadron, said he and other Airmen flew missions transporting Guard leadership, such as Gov. John Hoeven and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, to different areas in the state so that they could see the situations firsthand and accurately make decisions during the flood fight.

"It is an as-needed mission," Crary said.

Aircraft supplied to support these missions have come from several places around the region. Aviation assets were supplied not only from the North Dakota Nation Guard, but also from Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Iowa National Guard units. Additional aircraft have come from the active Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.

Several types of helicopters have been used, including UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks, HH-65 Dolphins and OH-58 Kiowas.

Larsen said that air support will stay in the fight until it's over and continue to run missions as long as they are needed.

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Since the terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 2,800 Soldiers and more than 1,600 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In recent weeks, nearly 2,000 North Dakota National Guardsmen - with support of about 400 additional Soldiers and Airmen from six other states - have been mobilized for current flood fighting missions all across North Dakota. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, we continue to have sufficient forces available to provide support for state and national emergencies and homeland defense.

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