Here’s one of those emails that are circulating about, describing one person’s up-close view of the relief operations for Katrina victims:
I just returned from New Orleans on a hurricane relief mission in the C-130.
Let me just start by saying I was awed. Not in what I saw in destruction and devastation because I had/have already seen enough of that on TV. What really hit me hard was the absolute determination and willingness of all those involved in the relief effort. I just want to quickly tell you what I was a part of and what I witnessed as it just really filled me with pride and reminded me again why we are such an amazing and successful country.
It started when I showed up for the flight in Nashville. Instead of the flight planning I would normally do (the other pilot did it), I was tasked to call all 60 or so of the pilots from the 105th Airlift Squadron (my squadron) and find out their availability to fly hurricane relief missions.
Now, don’t forget these are all Air National Guard men and women and most all have full time jobs outside of flying for the Guard. Almost without exception, every pilot offered whatever assistance was needed. No surprise.
I then jumped in the airplane and flew directly to New Orleans Int’l, which was and is only open to relief efforts. We had on board with us an aero medical evacuation team. They are a group of highly trained nurses and med techs that are qualified in evacuating wounded and sick soldiers from the battlefield and keeping them alive enroute to a medical facility.
One of the many missions of the C-130 is basically a flying hospital. We can literally set up and intensive care unit in the back if needed. So, with our team of aero meds and flight crew on board, we set course for New Orleans with the rough idea that we would transport injured and sick people to Elington Field, TX (Houston, TX). From there we would fly to Alexandria, LA, Charlotte, and then back to Nashville. Our mission ended up evacuating one of the VA hospitals’ patients as well as several civilians.