Wisconsin National Guard provides wildfire support on west coast
FRESNO, Calif. — Two flight teams from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, 64th Troop Command traveled from Madison to Sacramento, California to help with the recent wildfire outbreak.
According a release, the teams traveled in early September more than 1,700 miles and it took almost four days. Since the trek, the team hasn’t stopped flying as they’ve continued helping California Army National Guard aviators along with other firefighters.
“It’s a very rewarding experience when people ask for help and we can go and provide that assistance,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mike Tomblin, 147th pilot in command. “When we got asked, it’s just part of our nature to want to go do it. This helps grow the unit. The number of experiences we get from here certainly helps with our unit back home.”
The team were sent out to drop thousands of gallons of water on the Creek Fire in Fresno County a week after arriving. They then moved to a section of the SQF Complex Fire in Tulare County.
“The Wisconsin team has been a true value added to Joint Task Force Phoenix,” said Col. David L. Hall, commander of California Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade and JTF Phoenix’s commanding officer. “They were recently singled out by CAL FIRE due to their expertise and seamless integration into the firefighting team here in California. We are lucky to have them out here.”
Four of the five largest wildfires in state history happened this year, all of them happening since July.
The Wisconsin Guard is one of the furthest east of the states to help California, the release said. In less than two weeks, the team dropped more than 52,000 gallons of water too hard for ground crews to reach. The two teams and 15 soldiers remain on duty.
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