Posts From August, 2017

Task Force Harvey and 551st MRBC over all video



Video by Sgt. Samuel De Leon 


Texas Army National Guard (Texas Military Forces)


Soldiers from the 551st MRBC and Texas Guardsmen from the Texas Maritime Regiment conduct rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey.

156 Infantry Assists Hurricane Harvey flood evacuees



Video by Staff Sgt. Michael Farrar

Louisiana Army and Air National Guard


Louisiana National Guard soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the 156th Infantry Regiment assist Hurricane Harvey flood evacuees seeking shelter to transfer buses at the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, Louisiana on August 31, 2017. Many evacuees are from east Texas which suffered flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Soundbite: SGT Alexander Branning, 2-156th Infantry Regiment.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery and Response



Video by Senior Airman Renee Crugnale

147th Attack Wing (Texas Air National Guard)


Members of the 147th Attack Wing received supplies today to aid in the response efforts following hurricane Harvey. The maintenance crew worked on the flightline to assist a C-130 that brought pallets of goods for distribution.

Hybrid team rescues handicapped man from Hurricane Harvey flooding with water, ground and air assets

Photo By Capt. Martha Nigrelle | Texas National Guard soldiers, service members from the U.S. Coast Guard and Texas Task Force 1 and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service swift water rescue technicians work together to rescue a man with special medical needs from high-rising waters and medically evacuate him to a safe location, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017. Thousands of first responders from the military and local, state and federal agencies joined together to render aid to all those endangered by the high-rising floodwaters in south Texas following Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle) 



Story by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department


ORANGE, Texas – A team of National Guardsmen, Coast Guardsmen, swift-water rescue technicians and volunteers worked together to rescue and air-lift a patient needing special medical attention, from severe flooding to a safe, medical facility, in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017.

Service members from the Texas National Guard and a swift-water rescue team from Texas Task Force 1 and the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service arrived in a severely flooded neighborhood looking to help anyone in need, when due to special circumstances they ended up flagging down a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and medically evacuating a patient, rescuing him from danger and potentially saving his life.

“When we first got the call the information we were given was that there was a request to evacuate two elderly individuals, one of whom was paralyzed,” said Roger Patterson, Texas Task Force 1 squad leader. “Our Texas National Guard team assisted us with their high-profile vehicles to get us as close to the house as possible.”

Texas Guardsmen staged their vehicles, while Patterson and his team maneuvered through deep waters, diverse terrain and numerous obstacles to get to the family in need.

“The water was pretty bad,” said Texas National Guard Pfc. Martin Davila, 386th Engineer Battalion. “It was everywhere - both sides of the roads. Whole houses were under water.”

Patterson’s team arrived at the house and determined they would need a litter to safely transport the handicapped gentleman to dry land. 

“When we first got there we noticed an inflatable kayak tied to a street sign,” said Matt Paul, swift-water rescue technician and boat operator for Patterson’s Texas Task Force 1 squad. “We decided to use the kayak as a litter and floatation device, which enabled us to transport him in the safest and fastest way we could think of.”

While Paul and the rest of the members of his team worked to safely evacuate their patient, Patterson split off to coordinate for medical transport to ensure that the patient’s medical needs could be taken care of during his evacuation.

Back at the trucks, Guardsmen waited for the swift-water rescue team to return, while volunteers showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, looking to assist in any way possible.

“One of the really cool things was that when we evacuated the patient, a volunteer came over with his boat and evacuated his wife,” said Paul. “Which enabled us to focus on the well-being of the patient and his evacuation.”

Patterson coordinated for ambulance transport after determining that this patient’s medical needs required more attention than might be possible in the military vehicle.

“Because of his medical conditions we couldn’t bring him to any of the shelters open at the time,” said Patterson. “Ambulance transportation was requested but was significantly delayed due to limited resources and an inundation of patients.”

While Patterson worked on coordinating transport, the Guardsmen and Task Force 1 team worked to protect the man as best possible.

“I was keeping a look out for any emergency vehicles so I could help get him out of danger as quick as possible so he could get the medical attention he needed,” said Davila.

Another man, there looking for a family member, had two umbrellas in his vehicle and used them to provide shelter from the rain, for the patient. 

The man needed medical attention for several reasons, one of which was the inability to regulate his own body temperature.

“We had covered him up with as many blankets as we had available, but it continued to rain and the temperature was dropping,” said Paul. “I was concerned with the rain and the temperature; I was worried he would become hypothermic.” 

Then a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter flew by in what appeared to be a regular search pattern. 

Seeing an opportunity for a quicker medical evacuation, Paul placed his hands and arms out in a ‘Y’ signaling to the helicopter crew that he was asking them to land.

“They flew around showing us they would land,” said Paul. “So our Texas Guard partners helped us stop traffic and secure a landing zone for them, and they were able to land – right in the middle of I-10.”

Of course on that day I-10 traffic was a little sparse. 

“It was kind of exciting,” said Davilla. “It was the first time I have ever been a part of an evacuation by air, but it was also nerve-wracking because once we rescued him from the floods we weren’t sure how we would be able to safely evacuate him.”

The team that started out with just Texas soldiers and Task Force 1 swift-water rescue technicians had now doubled in size, adding volunteers and the U.S. Coast Guard, all with one mission, to get a patient in need to safety. 

“The rescue swimmers approached me and I told them the situation,” said Paul. “They agreed that it was a necessary transport given his medical conditions. Then the pilot confirmed that they would be able to evacuate the patient to a safe medical facility.”

As the hybrid team transported the patient from his inflatable kayak-litter to the Coast Guard litter, Patterson told the patient’s wife the plan.

“The wife was very thankful,” said Patterson. “She was extremely surprised with the helicopter, but very thankful.”

Once loaded on board the helicopter, Coast Guardsmen transported the patient and his wife to a medical facility where his condition could be attended to in safety.

“I’m glad we had all of the support we had,” said Davila. “It made me really proud to be a Texan to see how everyone came together to make sure everyone was okay and going somewhere safe.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, first responders say that this type of joint-teamwork is what is helping save lives.

“This type of teamwork is very unique,” said Paul. “It’s the first time I have worked with so many different entities to include the vast number of volunteers. To me, a lot of those folks are out there with their own equipment and on their own time. They are heroes, out there making sacrifices to help their neighbors out.”

First responders may come from different organizations, but they seem to agree on one thing, working together to help someone in need has also changed them. 

“After the hurricane response is over, this situation will stick out, we all worked together and were able to do something really good for this man,” said Paul.

“I’m really proud to have been a part of this mission and help someone in need,” said Davilla. “I will continue to volunteer for any rescue missions or volunteer work needed in the future.”

Orange, Texas - Severe Flooding - Hurricane Harvey - 049



Video by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department


Severe flooding in Orange, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, August 30, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard video by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Orange, Texas - Severe Flooding - Hurricane Harvey - 050



Video by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department


Severe flooding in Orange, Texas, August 30, 2017, following Hurricane Harvey. (U.S. Army National Guard video by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Orange, Texas - Severe Flooding - Hurricane Harvey - 051



Video by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Military Department


Severe flooding in Orange, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, August 30, 2017. Flood water ranged from one to five feet deep and continued to rise across the city throughout the night. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Evacuation in High Water Rescue Vehicles



Video by Staff Sgt. Agustin Salazar

149th Fighter Wing (Texas Air National Guard)


The 36th Sustainment Brigade, Army National Guard, and Texas Task Force 1 respond to 211 calls for evacuation in high water rescue vehicles, in Sugarland, Texas.

Alaska and California Air Guardsmen transported for rescue missions



Video by Staff Sgt. Balinda O'Neal Dresel

Alaska National Guard Public Affairs


Alaska and California Air National Guardsmen prepare to be transported from a staging area in Liberty, Texas, via Texas Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Grand Prairie, Texas, to assist with search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey Aug. 30, 2017. The 29 Guardsmen team are from the AKANG’s 212th Rescue Squadron and CAANG’s 129th Rescue Wing. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region.

Texas National Guard partners and neighbors rescue 1000 from floods

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Texas Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion and a local volunteer help residents down from a military vehicle in Cypress Creek, Texas, August 29, 2017. The Texas National Guard partnered with first responders from Texas Task Force One and the Cypress Creek Fire Department to move residents from severely flooded neighborhoods to safety days after Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

CYPRESS CREEK, Texas – Texas National Guardsmen from the 386th Engineer Battalion teamed up with Texas Task Force 1 and the Cypress Creek Fire Department, bringing 1,000 Cypress Creek residents from high-rising waters to safety, just days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas shores, August 28, 2016.

As heavy rains fell over the city, water levels continued to rise to dangerous and historic levels – some areas seeing more than five feet of flooding.

The flooding appeared to be the worst in a handful of sub-divisions. 

“Today was a day no one ever thought they’d see,” said Pfc. Adelisa Fuentes, 386th Engineer Battalion. “There was water rising up to your hips and the further the road went, the deeper the flood was.”

Texas Guardsmen equipped with swift-water vehicles and their partners, equipped with boats set out to help the many people in danger.

Swift water vehicles can safely move through approximately 30 inches of water. Texas Guardsmen took their trucks as far as they could before dismounting Task Force boats.

First responders used boats to go through entire neighborhoods, bringing all those in danger to safety.

“This is what we train for,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Dual Status Commander for Hurricane Harvey Recovery Efforts. “And we’re proud to stand beside our civilian partners, first responders and volunteers to serve the citizens of Texas.” 

It isn’t uncommon to find National Guardsmen working or training alongside emergency first responders – it’s a part of their mission. 

Texas Guardsmen train year-round with partner first responders like Texas Task Force One, so that when a disaster occurs in Texas, they are prepared.

“This is Texans helping Texans – neighbors helping neighbors,” Hamilton said. “While we don’t want to have to put our training to the test during a tragedy, our citizen-guardsmen remain prepared to help save lives and property, when called.” 

The team of Soldiers and first responders took on a new dynamic in the wake of Hurricane Harvey as local residents stopped to help. 

Those owning boats or jet skis, used them to assist in transporting victims to safety. Others brought water and helped transfer people and equipment onto the National Guard vehicles. 

“Watching others bring victims to safety into our LMTVs showed how much heart people really have and that they don’t just depend on us to do the work alone,” said Fuentes. “All help is worth a hand in a time of need.”

One man even cooked a platter of chicken, wading into water three feet deep in order to feed both Soldiers and volunteers – a much welcomed surprise as most appeared to work through lunch without stopping.

Dogs, cats and even a lucky stuffed iguana were passed from boats to Soldiers, followed by their owners and the residents of the neighborhoods suffering from severe flooding. 

Emotions were varied, some were in high spirits while others seemed overwhelmed by their new reality.

One woman had spent the previous day as an EMT rescuing people all over the city from flooding. 

“You never think you’re going to be the victim,” she said. “Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

After six hours of wading through deep waters, Soldiers and partner first responders, ensuring everyone who needed help was safe, began to pack up.

Despite the long hours and poor weather conditions, the Soldiers all appeared to be energized, focused and in good spirits.

“Nothing is more important to our Guardsmen than the chance to serve their local community.” Hamilton said. “Helping our neighbors when they need us most is the heart of The Guard, and why we choose to become Citizen Soldiers and Airmen.”

One Texas Guardsman on scene, felt the same way.

“I am so glad I was able to be there to help my fellow Texans get to safety from their flooded homes,” said Fuentes. “It’s heartbreaking, but everyone is safe.”