Members of the 165th Volunteer for Hurricane Work - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

09/01/05

Members of the 165th Volunteer for Hurricane Work

The 165th Airlift Wing, along with its units throughout Georgia, has been asked to assist along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. The request came down yesterday afternoon from the state department, and already volunteers are stepping up.

Right now, it looks like the Guardsmen and -women will leave on Saturday, but it's still a little too early to tell just how many will go.

Some of the seniors in command at the 165th say their new mission is simple: help with the situation along the Gulf Coast.

"I know we have already sent two aircraft out of this wing this morning to start moving supplies," said Col. Jesse Simmons.

More buses are being loaded with supplies to help with everything including security, debris removal, transportation and whatever else is needed.

"Anything you can think of that we have, we have offered up," said Col. Simmons.

From cots to ATVs, food and water, the men and women will bring whatever it takes to make a difference. And this request from the state is just that, a request. It isn't mandatory. It's voluntary, which means the people going are leaving their families and jobs out of the goodness of their hearts.

"We're talking to have these people leave on the Saturday of Labor Day," said Col. Simmons. "Don't know when they are coming back, living in sleeping bags and don't know when they will shower."

These are the same men and women who have been deployed overseas at some point during the past two years in the war on terrorism. Those deployments will continue, but some members of the 165th will be soon be entering a different kind of war zone.

"It's a great mix of folks with a lot of skill sets," Lt. Col. Ken Luikart told us.

The 165th can't say how many people are going because right now they don't know just how many people are needed. But they say they have had an overwhelming amount of volunteers considering this is not a mandatory activation.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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