By Spc. Tarell J. BilboJune 7, 2010
CARVILLE, La. (Army News Service, June 7, 2010) -- National Guardsmen from Louisiana's neighboring states and beyond have joined with the bayou state's National Guard to help protect its shores from the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
Aviators from the Florida and Mississippi National Guard flew CH-47 Chinook helicopters to assist with filling breaches in Louisiana's barrier islands with sandbags, as well as additional UH-60 Black Hawk support from Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska.
The State Aviation Officer of Louisiana sent out an email to all states asking for assistance, specifically Chinooks, since the LANG currently does not have any.
"The Chinooks have been a great help," said 1st Lt. James Gabler, officer in charge of operations for the sandbag mission in Buras, La. "When it was just Louisiana's Black Hawk helicopters, we were hauling about 150 bags a day, but with the assistance of the Chinooks and other Black Hawks...we've been hauling 700-800 bags a day."
The sandbags are currently being dropped into breaches in Pelican, Scofield and other islands, to prevent any possible oil from moving further inland.
"We all volunteered to come and help," said 1st Lt. Michael Stanski, commander of Florida's 1st Detachment of B Company, 1st of the 111th General Support Aviation Battalion. "Florida and Louisiana aviators have a strong relationship. Our unit also helped with some missions during Hurricane Katrina."
"The troops love it," said Gabler. "It makes us feel better to know that other states want to come and help us. It's a joint cause."
"Morale is high and we're going to continue to stay and help as long as we can," Stanski said. "This mission is very well supported, and we've been very successful."
(Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo serves with the 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)