By Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead
The Alaska National Guard is sending a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to Bethel as part of the state’s effort to prepare for disaster response during the 2021 spring flood season.
A Black Hawk and aircrew from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard, will remain in Bethel until the risk for flooding subsides. While stationed in Bethel, the crew will continue to train on their federal mission and remain ready to respond to any requests for support from civil authorities through the State Emergency Operations Center.
Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, the commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, traveled to Western Alaska this month to meet with Tribal leaders and citizens in Bethel, Tuluksak and Chevak to discuss disaster assistance processes in light of recent emergencies in the region and in preparation for flood season.
While there, Saxe announced the Alaska National Guard plans to preposition a Black Hawk during flood season for potential natural disaster emergency response, considering the potential threat of flooding along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.
A Black Hawk aircrew is equipped and prepared to respond expeditiously to events that may require evacuation.
The Guard has an aviation facility in Bethel, and for many years, one or two helicopters have been stationed there.
However, more than half of the unit’s aircraft and aircrew are deployed to Kuwait for nine months. They are supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve to increase regional stability.