Monday, September 04, 2017

Marine Reservists Answer Nation's Call in Texas

By Marine Corps Pfc. Samantha Schwoch U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

HEMPSTEAD, Texas, Sept. 4, 2017 — Marines with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion and 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, have come together since Aug. 28 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to conduct search and rescue missions and provide disaster relief to affected areas of Texas and Louisiana.

Hurricane Harvey, a storm of record-breaking proportions, dropped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of water or 51 inches of rain in the two states. Marines supported lead federal agencies and worked closely with state and local officials to conduct search and rescue missions. As flood waters rose, the Marines' amphibious capabilities, which make them unique among the services, allowed them to swiftly rescue residents in distress.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve is exceptional in its ability to respond quickly to any call and to flexibly conduct operations through air, logistics and ground elements. For example, the Marines rapidly mobilized and used their amphibious assault vehicles designed to transport Marines from ship to shore to rescue residents from flood affected areas.

Humanitarian Assistance

"We were called up to come out and provide humanitarian assistance to the local population," said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Alan Daigle, a platoon sergeant with 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. "We got the call to come over to east Texas into [the] Beaumont, Lumberton and Port Arthur areas. So we've been doing humanitarian missions, going out with the swift-water rescue survival team and finding areas that traditional military vehicles cannot get in and out of. The amphibious assault vehicles help us get to those areas."

Marines from 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 rescued almost 1,300 residents and countless animals from the affected areas.

"We got our first mission to Clearview, Texas, to help the local authorities there to go to these neighborhoods that were unreached," said Marine Corps Sgt. Brad L. Coats, a reconnaissance Marine with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. "They had us going house to house via Zodiac, which is our combat rubber rafts, checking on the individuals that were in these houses to see if they wanted to be rescued or if they needed supplies."

Lifesaving Efforts

The units from Marine Forces Reserve focused on lifesaving efforts throughout south east Texas, where many of the Marines are from. Charlie Company, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion is located in Galveston, and 4th Reconnaissance Battalion is based in San Antonio. The Texas-based Marines have long-standing relationships in the surrounding communities where they live and work.
"We have a personal responsibility to pull together because it's like our home is being invaded in a way," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Travis Hough, a reconnaissance Marine with 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. "Since all of us are from San Antonio and the surrounding areas, essentially it's more than just a duty but more of a personal responsibility to help out our fellow communities. It's the best part about having that special bond together, especially in Texas."

Army Reserve Aviators Deliver Water to Hurricane Harvey Victims

By Army Capt. Loyal Auterson U.S. Army Reserve Command

CONROE, Texas, Sept. 4, 2017 — Once the skies cleared after Hurricane Harvey moved off, the work of cleaning up was hampered by flooding across various counties. This didn't slow down the tight-knit aviation community here.

As donors began to send semitrailers of water and supplies into the area, the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport became the natural staging point for relief operations.

Two local aviators, Chad Herdrich and Mike Barksdale, began to negotiate hangar space to store the supplies and called for local pilots to carry them to flooded communities north of Beaumont. As they began to carry the cargo, two problems faced the aviators. Their personal aircraft could carry only a few hundred pounds at a time, and the airspace became congested with military helicopters trying to locate trapped survivors.

As a solution, the two men reached out to local U.S. Army Reserve aviators with the 1st Battalion (Assault Helicopter Battalion), 158th Aviation Regiment. One day later, four CH-47 Chinooks from the 7th Battalion (General Support Aviation Battalion), 158th Aviation Regiment, each capable of moving 15,000 pounds of water, took on the mission.

"We kept having semiloads show up, and we just weren't cutting a dent into it. …The Army Reserve comes in and tackles the issue with these big CH-47 Chinooks, and God bless them that they came in and helped us out," Hendrich said.

Critical Capabilities

"We do have the capability to move a massive amount of cargo to affected areas with four Chinook and three UH-60 Black Hawks," said Army Capt. Chris Fishel, an assistant operations officer for 1st Battalion (Assault Helicopter Battalion), 158th Aviation Regiment.. "Yesterday, we moved just shy of 100,000 pounds. Safety is always paramount, and airspace deconfliction is a huge aspect of it."

The Army Reserve provides capabilities critical to Defense Security Cooperation Agency's response to the hurricane, including search and rescue, aviation, engineer, transportation, medical and communications support. The Army Reserve owns a stake in domestic welfare with soldiers and equipment in more than 1,100 communities across the nation, allowing immediate response to local emergencies.
"Here's the bottom line for the Army Reserve and for this unit in particular, the 1st of the 158th Assault Helicopter Battalion: this community has supported us through the good times, through the bad times for a lot of years. Having the opportunity to support the community that has supported us for all those years, is an honor, it's a privilege, and it's a responsibility that we take very seriously," Fishel said.