A team of 12 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers are headed to Florida to conduct relief operations in support of civil authorities in response to Hurricane Michael.
Two UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopters with hoist capabilities from the Wisconsin Army National Guard flight facility in West Bend reported for state active duty Oct. 10 to prepare for deployment to Florida.
Gov. Scott Walker authorized Wisconsin’s support to Florida after the state received an emergency management assistance compact — or EMAC — request from Florida. Walker issued Executive Order 311 Oct. 10 and declared a state of emergency, which authorized Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, to call elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty as he deems necessary to support EMAC requests from Florida.
“Assisting civil authorities during times of emergency is one of the core missions of the National Guard,” Dunbar said. “Our Soldiers and Airmen in the Wisconsin National Guard continue to demonstrate their professionalism, and they always stand ready to respond when called.”
The Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to take on additional missions to support Florida or other states affected by Hurricane Michael, Dunbar added.
The medevac unit brings an array of capabilities to the response, including medical treatment and transport as well as hoist capabilities that can pull individuals from areas cut off by high water.
Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Wisconsin National Guard continue to monitor the situation and review requests to determine if there are other areas in which Wisconsin can provide support.
The mission to Florida continues a busy fall for Wisconsin Army National Guard medevac units based out of West Bend. Multiple crews recently returned from North Carolina where they assisted in the wake of Hurricane Florence as well.
In fall 2017, thousands of Wisconsin National Guard troops mobilized in support of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Approximately 650 Soldiers from the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade Combat Team supported civil authorities in Florida where they provided humanitarian relief, security, and traffic control support to communities. Blackhawk medevac crews also deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to transport patients in need of medical care to health care facilities, and Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard deployed to Puerto Rico to assist in re-establishing communications on the island and provide mass feeding capabilities to first responders and civilians.
The Wisconsin Guard has also been busy assisting civil authorities here in Wisconsin. Hundreds of Guardsmen assisted with sandbagging efforts after torrential rains soaked southern Wisconsin in late August and early September, and Soldiers responded on multiple occasions to flooding in summer 2017 in Monroe County and Burlington, Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously continues to maintain a high operational tempo with worldwide deployments in support of its federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. More than 350 Soldiers from the Milwaukee-based 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery deployed to the Middle East this summer and more than 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team deployed to the Middle East in March. Meanwhile, a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to provide public affairs support there.
Nearly 30 Soldiers from the West Bend-based 248th General Aviation Support Battalion recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East. Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators from Detachment 5, 641st Aviation returned from Afghanistan earlier this summer, and approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January. Another 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November.
Also in November, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea, and more than 100 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field returned from Southwest Asia. Approximately 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee recently completed worldwide deployments as well.
Meanwhile, nearly 400 Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry are slated to deploy to Afghanistan this winter.