• National Guardsmen help guide a rancher as he loads bundles of hay aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to deliver to stranded livestock who have been trapped by the flooded salt-waters without food or fresh water since Hurricane Ike struck the Southwest coast of Louisiana.

    Loading Hay

    National Guardsmen help guide a rancher as he loads bundles of hay aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to deliver to stranded livestock who have been trapped by the flooded salt-waters without food or fresh water since Hurricane Ike struck the Southwest...

  • Ranchers lay out dozens of rolls of hay for CH-47 Chinook helicopters to transport to thousands of cattle that are isolated by the floodwaters and have not had any food or fresh water since Hurricane Ike slammed into the Southwest coast of Louisiana on Sept. 13.

    Ranchers lay out hay for Chinook

    Ranchers lay out dozens of rolls of hay for CH-47 Chinook helicopters to transport to thousands of cattle that are isolated by the floodwaters and have not had any food or fresh water since Hurricane Ike slammed into the Southwest coast of Louisiana on...

  • National Guardsmen of A Company, 1-185th Aviation Battalion from the Mississippi National Guard assist Louisiana Guardsmen in retrieving water from a  pond just south of Vinton, La.  They are using the water to fill water troughs along the inner coastal waterway for  cattle stranded without fresh water due to flooding from Hurricane Ike.

    Filling water troughs

    National Guardsmen of A Company, 1-185th Aviation Battalion from the Mississippi National Guard assist Louisiana Guardsmen in retrieving water from a pond just south of Vinton, La. They are using the water to fill water troughs along the inner...

HAMMOND, La. (Army News Service, Sept. 22, 2008) - National Guard Soldiers teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry last week to airlift food and water to thousands of cattle isolated by the floodwaters of Hurricane Ike.

Trapped in remote areas south of Vinton, La., in Calcasieu Parish, more than 3,000 cattle were at risk of starvation and kidney failure due to no feed and the high percentage of salt in the surrounding floodwaters.

Two National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters distributed more than 52,000 pounds of hay to the livestock and worked vigorously to provide fresh water, dropping more than 13,500 gallons to the different locations.

"It was pretty sad that the cattle were stranded out there with no food or water, but the rancher's had grid coordinates for us to drop the hay and water made it easier for us to conduct a successful mission quickly," said Spc. Michael Nolan of Metairie, La., who assisted with the life-saving mission.

"Without the help from the National Guard and the donated hay from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, these cattle could not have survived," said a tearful Kent LeDoux Gray Ranch Manager of Vinton, La. "They are isolated into small areas and need the fresh water and hay desperately."

"Water is even more critical than food at this point, because they have been ingesting a lot of salt water," said Bill Bruce of Gum Cove, La. Bruce is also a local rancher who went out by air-boat to check on his livestock Sunday morning after Hurricane Ike, and had already lost about 100 cattle.

"This is their life, they depend on their cattle," said Sgt. Joshua Davis, a volunteer with 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion home on leave from Iraq. "As Soldiers, it's our duty and an honor to help them."

"The National Guard responded much quicker than we expected," said LeDoux. And that quick response meant life to the cattle that were looking at almost a week now without fresh water.

"This was a good experience for me", Davis added. "Not only was I able to make a difference, I also got a chance to familiarize myself with the Bambi buckets during a real world mission."

With more than 52,000 pounds of hay and 13,500 gallons of water distributed to the cattle so desperately in need, the National Guard will continue to provide as much assistance as resources will allow to help the cattle ranchers affected by Ike.

(Staff Sgt. Stephanie J. Cross serves with the Louisiana State Aviation Command as the unit public affairs representative.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16