Guard Helicopter Crew Awarded for Saving 6 Lives

Sometimes even first responders can get caught up in the same dangerous predicament as the people they’re trying to help, especially during flash floods.

Four members of the Louisiana Army National Guard were honored last month by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division for their aerial rescue of six people, including the LDWF’s SGT Rusty Perry and Winn Parish Firefighter Buddy King. The men’s boat capsized as they tried to evacuate people from a flooded area in Winnfield, La., on March 10, 2016.

The Guardsmen, CW5 Jack Mucha, CW2 Corey Sayer, SSG Chad McCann and SGT Aaron Adam, all members of the Bayou 69 Black Hawk Helicopter crew, were awarded the Citizens Exceptional Bravery Awards for their efforts.

When Perry and King could not be reached by other vessels or high water vehicles, the Black Hawk crew performed an aerial rescue in a less than ideal spot that required precision hover work, as told by the crew in the video below:

“There was probably only about 10 feet between the power lines and the edge of the trees,” said SSG McCann, whose job it was to lower SGT Adam down to the stranded men. Adding to the pressure was the fact that no one knew whether the power lines were still active, said Pilot CW5 Mucha.

“It was a nail biter for sure,” said CW5 Mucha, whose mind was also on the mission he and the rest of Bayou 69 were originally scheduled to be doing that day – a flyover of a memorial honoring the MOJO 69 crew – four fellow Louisiana Guardsmen and seven Marines – who had been killed in a helicopter crash on March 10 one year prior.

“We did not want to be accident No. 2,” he said.

It was also a close call for Perry and King, who needed immediate medical attention after being stuck in cold water for a few hours, according to COL John Plunkett, who is now Bayou 69’s commanding officer.

At the awards ceremony last month, “The one individual said that he was actually hypothermic, and close to not being able to hold on to the item he was holding on to,” said COL Plunkett. “[The Guardsmen] were pretty much their last hope for getting those guys out of there.”

After safely retrieving the two men, the crew then returned to the area to rescue the two people Perry and King were trying to help, plus two other stranded first responders.

CW5 Mucha said the only comparable mission he could think of was the hoist work and rescues he had done during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The most rewarding mission you can do is doing Medevac, and saving lives in combat and here in the State,” said CW5 Mucha, who has been a pilot since 1980. Mucha said most of his Medevac missions have been along the coastline, “so it was nice to help some people in our local area.”

So if you’re looking for a job with a mission, the Army National Guard offers 130 career choices, and not just in aviation. Check out our job board for more information on careers in administration, military police, infantry, mechanics and maintenance, logistics support, and more. For a complete rundown of the benefits of joining the Guard, contact your local recruiter.

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State Spotlight: North Carolina

Right Place, Right Time, Right Training

MORGANTON, N.C. – Within minutes of a single-engine plane crash, North Carolina Army National Guard SGT Charles Roper was pulling the pilot from the burning cockpit.

The Sergeant was on his way to pick his children up from school on Feb. 6 at about 4:30 p.m. when he noticed a plane flying very low, almost at treetop level.

“The plane took a nosedive like it was doing a crazy stunt. It never came back up.”

SGT Roper saw the plane crash, and immediately put his truck into four-wheel drive, driving through ditches and farmland to get to the crash site.

“When I pulled up, I saw the plane, and it was on fire with plane parts in trees, the propeller in the field, and the pilot was in the plane, just lying there,” he said. “It all happened so fast, I didn’t even have time to call 911. I rushed out of my vehicle and ran to the burning plane.”

SGT Roper, a full-time mechanic at the North Carolina National Guard’s Lenoir Field Maintenance Shop # 2 and a 31B Military Police Officer in the 210th Military Police Company, said he yelled at the pilot to get out of the plane, but the pilot was motionless.

“Fire was all around him, and he was strapped in with the same type of seatbelt harness we use in the Guard,” he said. “I reached in and pulled the quick release, then I pulled him out of the plane. All I could think of was it exploding, so I (dragged) him away from the plane. He was moaning and grunting, and I told him to hang on.”

SGT Roper is no stranger to helping rescue people in dangerous situations. He was a Morganton public safety officer for six years and responded to many car wrecks, house fires, and other adrenalin-pumping emergencies. 

SGT Charles Roper

SGT Charles Roper

 

Others came to assist SGT Roper and helped him pull the pilot farther away from the burning wreckage and on to the back of a pickup truck.

The pilot was safe, but SGT Roper’s assistance was now needed by the first public safety officer to reach the crash site.

“Kim Davis, a Morganton public safety officer, arrived with a fire truck, and asked me to help pull the hose close to the plane while she turned the water on,” said SGT Roper. “I manned the hose and helped get the fire under control. Soon after that, I could hear more EMS pulling up to the scene.”

SGT Roper said that once the firefighters took the hose from him it was the first time he could take a breath and relax. He noticed his arms and jeans were bloody.

“I got with an EMS worker, grabbed a lot of baby wipes, and cleaned off my arms as well as I could,” he said. “I told EMS I was leaving. I didn’t want to stick around. I was just glad I could play the part of a guardian angel.”

SGT Roper got into his vehicle and continued on his way to pick up his children before local news made it to the crash site.

According to local authorities, the pilot, who was taken to a Charlotte hospital, received lacerations to the face and was “bruised and banged up,” but expected to recover fully.

SGT Roper’s training as a member of the National Guard and as a civilian first responder allowed him to act quickly and decisively. His actions are the embodiment of Citizen-Soldiers living and serving in the communities they have sworn to protect.

So, if you have the desire to protect your fellow citizens and your Nation, find out more about joining the Army National Guard. Most Guard members serve part-time, allowing them the flexibility to earn a degree or certification using the Guard’s education benefits. The Guard also trains Soldiers for careers in more than 150 fields. Visit our job board to explore careers and contact a recruiter for more information.

From an original article by LTC Matthew Devivo, North Carolina National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in February 2017.

 

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7,500 National Guard Soldiers Serve at Presidential Inauguration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 7,500 National Guard members from 44 States, Territories, and the District of Columbia were on hand to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20.

“This is the Super Bowl event for the District of Columbia National Guard,” said LTC Nicole L. Brugato, a personnel officer at the National Guard Bureau who was part of the joint task force supporting the event. “Everybody from a private first class to [our] chief of staff is energized, and this is our opportunity to truly be the President’s Guard.”

Soldiers provided security, crowd control, traffic management, and logistics and communications capabilities while working with the Secret Service, United States Capitol Police, and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, among other agencies.

SPC Shaleek Blackman, left, with the Delaware Army National Guard's 153rd Military Police Company, and SSG Eric Stunkard, with the Delaware Army Guard's 262nd Component Repair Company, keep an eye out as crowds make their way to the National Mall for the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Tech. SGT Erich B. Smith).

“[The inaugural event] took so many integral parts, so many pieces for it to come out smoothly,” said PFC Michael Arthur, a military police officer with the Louisiana Army National Guard’s 239th Military Police Company, who worked with officers from the Transportation Security Administration at a checkpoint along the inaugural parade route.

While boots on the ground played a key role in ensuring safety and security, Guard members could be found underground as well. SGT John Garnett of the Tennessee National Guard’s 251st Military Police Company worked with officers from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Police in providing added security in subway stations near the Capitol building.

For Garnett, the day was an exercise in being “vigilant and resilient, and dedicated to keeping everyone as safe as possible.”

In addition to providing support to local authorities, about 100 Guard members provided traditional ceremonial support, including marching in the inaugural parade.

The National Guard’s presence in the Presidential Inauguration dates to 1789, when local militia units and members of the regular Army took part in George Washington’s inaugural events in New York City.

CSM Wayne L. Bowser, the senior enlisted advisor of the District of Columbia National Guard, said he hoped young Soldiers left with a sense of fulfillment and pride from taking part in the inauguration.

“There is a small percentage of folks who wear the uniform,” he said. “There is a smaller [percentage] who will get a chance to be a part of this type of event.”

As part of its dual mission to serve the Nation and the community, the Army National Guard can be called up for other stateside events, too, like natural disasters. So, if you’re dependable and looking to make a difference in your community, check out the Guard as a career option. Service is typically part-time and close to home. You’ll train in one of 150 career fields and be eligible for fantastic benefits like money for college.

Visit our job board where you can search by job category, like medical or logistics. You can also search by keyword or location. And for personalized attention, contact a recruiter.

From an original article by Technical  SGT Erich B. Smith, which appeared in January 2017 in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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