Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Arkansas Guard Mobilizing

Arkansas Guard deploys more troops and equipment for hurricane relief Thursday

CAMP JOSEPH T. ROBINSON, Ark. - The Arkansas National Guard has mobilized more than 850 soldiers and airman to Mississippi and Louisiana to assist in hurricane relief efforts.

Task Force Razorback, which began deploying Monday, arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., Wednesday and is scheduled to move to Biloxi, Miss., Thursday. Task Force Razorback is comprised of 350 combat engineers, transportation specialist, medics, and military police, primarily from Jonesboro, Marked Tree and West Memphis.

The Arkansas Army National Guard's 35th Aviation Brigade deployed two UH-60 MEDEVAC Black Hawk helicopters to Mississippi Tuesday and performed search and rescue missions near Mobile, Ala., Wednesday rescuing a total of 57 civilians including six children and two infants. All rescues were from rooftops and flooded homes. Some missions involved chopping through attic roofs.

Task Force Arkansas, which is comprised of 500 soldiers and airman from across the state, is planning to deploy Thursday to Louisiana. An advance party, including the Task Force Arkansas commander, will depart Thursday morning via C-130 airlift provided by the Arkansas Air National Guard's 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base. The initial command and control cell will fly to Hammond, La., in Tangipahoa Parish, where they will make contact with the Louisiana National Guard and prepare for the remainder of Task Force Arkansas to arrive.

Task Force Arkansas will include soldiers from the 39th Infantry Brigade and the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade as well as airmen from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith, the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base and the 223rd Combat Communications Squadron based in Hot Springs. The task force will deploy with more than 80 vehicles including fuel trucks, water trucks, 2-1/2 ton deuce and a half cargo trucks, 5-ton trucks, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs) and HMMWVs. The soldiers and airmen of Task Force Arkansas have a wide variety of skills and specialties including communications, medical, maintenance, transportation, law enforcement, engineering and logistics, just to name a few. In many cases, these Guardsmen have combat proven capabilities having been deployed in recent years for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Soldiers from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, which has units in Bentonville, Berryville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Harrison, Lincoln, Marshall, Mountain Home, Ozark, Siloam Springs, Springdale and Van Buren, are scheduled to depart from Fort Chaffee Thursday at 9 a.m. en route to Camp Robinson where they will pick up additional personnel and equipment before convoying from Camp Robinson to Louisiana around 2 p.m.

Personnel from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith are scheduled to depart from Ebbing Air National Guard Base at 6 a.m. en route to Little Rock Air Force Base.

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