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By Maj. Holli Nelson
West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs
The West Virginia National Guard’s C. Co., 1-150th Assault Battalion, located in Wheeling, has launched one UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with hoist capability to Fayette County to assist local authorities in aerial firefighting.
The crew of five Soldiers departed at approximately 9 a.m. and will fly to Fayette County to link up with emergency managers and on-scene authorities. The 1-150th Assault Battalion crew have undergone extensive training in Bambi bucket operations over the past few years and completed their refresher training this past summer.
“No matter the need or the danger of the mission, the National Guard will always be there to help the citizens of West Virginia,” stated Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “Our Wheeling-based unit has been training for many years to answer this call and will integrated with our partners in the Division of Forestry and Emergency Management Division to save lives and mitigate damage due to this fire.”
The buckets utilized in this mission are capable of holding 550 gallons of water per scoop, which equates to roughly 4,400 pounds of water. Depending on the location of a fire and the proximity to a water source, crews could potentially execute multiple passes to extinguish a fire during one mission.
This mission marks the first of its kind for the West Virginia Army National Guard’s aviation crews. The Guard has never been requested to provide aerial support for a wildland fire in the State of West Virginia’s history.
The 1-150th Assault Battalion operates the UH-60 L and M model Blackhawks. Their mission is to provide general aviation support as necessary to the Governor and the citizens of West Virginia in times of emergency and they specialize in personnel movement, sling load, rappel, fast rope insertion/extraction, helocast, paradrop and hoist operations.