State Spotlight: South Carolina

Guard Helicopter Crew Rescues Fallen Hiker

The Army National Guard has a reputation as any governor’s go-to team to activate in natural disasters like floods and wildfires, but sometimes a team with special skills can be called in to help out with problems of a smaller scale.

Members of the South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (SC-HART) responded to a call last week to rescue a hiker stranded on a mountain ledge at Table Rock State Park, west of Greenville, S.C.

The hiker was airlifted from the mountain at about 9:25 a.m. after reportedly being stranded for several hours after falling about 70 feet.

According to crew reports, Pickens County emergency management authorities requested support from SC-HART, comprised of members of the South Carolina Army National Guard and civilians, when rescuers on-site realized that a helicopter was going to be the most effective means of reaching and extracting the hiker.

Members of the South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Recue Team (SC-HART) responded to a call to rescue a hiker stranded on a mountain ledge at Table Rock State Park Jan. 5, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by SSG Roberto Di Giovine)

“It was key to use a helicopter to rescue the hiker. Due to difficult conditions, the rescuers on the ground couldn’t reach him,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tripp Hutto, UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot from the 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment. “We could see from the air, it looked like the closest [rescuers on foot] could get to him was about 80 feet.”

After the call for support was received through State Emergency Management channels, both the civilian and military components of SC-HART rescuers were simultaneously activated.

The South Carolina Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and crew deployed from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C., picking up a team of rescuers from Pickens County at the South Carolina National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility 2 in Greenville to help with the rescue.

Once the hiker was on board, the SC-HART helicopter landed near a pre-positioned ambulance on-site, where the hiker was released to emergency medical support personnel.

“The rescue went smoothly and was conducted without incident,” said CW4 Hutto. “The SC-HART team works well together due to partnerships developed through past training and real world events, including the statewide flooding of 2015. This allowed for a seamless rescue.”

So if you’re interested in a job where you can come to the rescue in your community, check out what the Army National Guard has to offer: part-time service that’s close to home, more than 150 career fields, and great benefits like money for college. Check out our job board for more information on careers and contact a recruiter today.

From an original article by SSG Roberto Di Giovine and CPT Brian Hare, South Carolina Army National Guard, which appeared in January 2017 in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Spotlight: Stateside Missions

Army National Guard Works to Secure the Homeland

Joining the Army National Guard appealed to Specialist (SPC) Alan Wainright because he could stay close to where he grew up in North Carolina, and not move from place to place every few years like full-time military service members do. 

The National Guard is unique in that 84 percent of its members serve in a part-time status close to where they live, and because this branch of the military fulfills a dual mission of serving the country and serving the community. A governor or the president can call up the Guard at a moment’s notice to help with homeland emergencies.

While SPC Wainright has not deployed overseas in his five years with the Guard, he is fresh off two back-to-back stateside missions in North Carolina this fall, working riot control in Charlotte in late September, and then helping out during Hurricane Matthew and the residual flooding it caused further inland earlier this month.

SPC Wainright, like all Guard members, goes where he is called, but because of his training in security and law enforcement as a 31B- Military Policeman, his role during the flooding was less about rescuing stranded residents, providing them with necessities like food and water, or storm cleanup.

“Our mission up there was more to protect buildings from looting. We did help out fire and rescue because we had thermals and night vision, but that wasn’t our main mission.”

Looting turned out not to be a problem in the Lumberton, N.C., area during the flooding. That was also the case when SPC Wainright was called up to help with riot control in Charlotte for about a week. By that time, local police had back-up from state police and the Guard.

“It’s amazing when you’ve got a lot more eyes and hands on deck, stuff like [looting] doesn’t go down.”

Demonstrators in Charlotte were protesting the death of Keith Lamont Scott, an African American man who was shot by a city policeman. Police said Scott was armed with a gun and did not comply with their orders. Scott’s family said he was unarmed.

SPC Wainright said most of the resentment protestors expressed was directed at local law enforcement rather than Guard Soldiers.

“They were mostly friendly,” he says. “You had a few that got a little mouthy and wanted to talk junk, but for the most part they respected us and left us alone.”

Some of the other Guard work SPC Wainright has done in his home State is to provide traffic control for races and security when the Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in 2012.

Unlike most of his fellow Soldiers, SPC Wainright works full-time for the Guard. He is part of a mobile recruiting team out of Raleigh, N.C. That means he gets lot of questions about joining the Guard and what he likes best about it, which is:

“The benefits and also just traveling. I’ve seen a lot of different States and a lot of different things that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t with them.”

So, if you’d like to learn more about the Guard’s benefits or one of the careers you can pursue, check our job board or contact your local recruiter.

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Happy Veterans Day

Time and time again, the Soldiers whose stories we feature in On Your Guard credit their military training for sharpening their instincts and giving them confidence and the courage to never give up on any mission no matter the size or importance.

The American flagThe skills and values the U.S. military instills in its Soldiers have won formidable battles and wars that have altered the course of world history. They’ve also made a difference in our own backyards, helping to protect or rebuild communities affected by floods, wildfires or other natural disasters. Even out of uniform, Soldiers like Arizona Guardsman PFC Samuel Pineda, who was featured in this blog last year, said it was his training and his instincts that kicked in to help him rescue his neighbors from their burning home.

Not everyone is cut out to be a leader. Not everyone can look danger in the face and act without hesitation, but that’s what our men and women service members are trained to do.

Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to all those who have served our country and to those who continue to do so.


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