RI Air National Guard flying to Texas for Harvey relief mission

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Air National Guard is heading to Texas to help with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

A C-130J cargo plane took off from Quonset at 9:30 p.m. Friday for a mission after getting a call from the National Guard Bureau just a couple of hours earlier.

Col. Dan Walter, the Commander of the 143rd Airlift Wing, said six members of the guard will be landing in Houston to pick up a special tactics squadron from the Kentucky Air National Guard, along with their equipment. The Kentucky team had been assisting with Harvey search and rescues.

The C-130J plane will bring those troops home to Louisville, Walter said. The mission is expected to take about 14 hours.

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“Our bread and butter mission is really doing the same type of thing but in a combat environment,” Walter said. “To actually be able to take some time to help out American citizens more directly is always a great turn of events. So we’re happy to help out as much as we can.”

Walter said the Rhode Island Air National Guard has eight C-130J cargo planes, the newest model of the aircraft. The huge planes are able to carry large amounts of supplies, equipment and personnel to disaster zones.

Two of those planes were placed on standby this week to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Another is ready in case the guard receives a call for another mission.

“They all wanted to go,” Col. Walter said. “In fact, we have quite a lot of volunteers right now, so if we do need to increase the scale of the response, we’re ready to do that.”

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