TULSA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Army National Guard has been mobilized to parts of Northeastern and Central Oklahoma in response to flood and tornado damage beginning May 23.
More than 250 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment; 120th Engineering Battalion and 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, have conducted various disaster relief missions, including the inspection of flood walls along the Arkansas River; filling thousands of sandbags to be placed along fatigued levees; water pump set-up and the stabilization of the historic WWII submarine, the USS Batfish.
Oklahoma National Guard aviation assets from the 245th Aviation Battalion have flown their UH-60 "Black Hawk" and UH-72 "Lakota" helicopters more than 45 flight hours while assisting with rescue missions and relief efforts in the most devastated parts of the State.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Zahn, a Black Hawk pilot with the Company C, 1st of the 244th Aviation Battalion, headquartered in Tulsa, said he was proud of the work he and his crew members have done, especially the rescuing of flood victims.
“It's very rewarding to see the sense of relief on flood victim's faces as we fly in and load them onto the helicopter,” said Zahn.
Cpl. Steven Ward, a Soldier with the 120th Engineering Battalion, assisted in the evacuation of citizens from Braggs, Oklahoma, via a Black Hawk helicopter.
“It's not about us, it's about the people hurting and in need, they are our people,” Ward said. “They are Oklahomans and Americans so they are family, and family takes care of each other.”
In El Reno, Oklahoma, 12 Soldiers from the 63rd Civil Support Team provided search and rescue assistance to the community dealing with the EF-3 tornado damage that occurred May 25. The Guardsmen searched a destroyed hotel and adjacent mobile home park. Fortunately, they did not find any trapped or injured individuals.
Currently, the damage from the record-breaking floods spans across much of Northeastern and Central Oklahoma and continues to devastate the surrounding areas. The Oklahoma National Guard will remain on site working along side Oklahoma emergency managers and other first responders until their mission is complete.