Nearly 20 soldiers and two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters returned to Wisconsin Nov. 16 and 18 after a deployment to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in the aftermath of hurricanes that ravaged the U.S. territory this fall.

Four airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Refueling Wing also returned to the Badger State in recent days following deployments to Puerto Rico, where they assisted with airfield management.

The soldiers and airmen were all part of the Wisconsin National Guard’s sustained response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria over the past three months, which impacted Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other U.S. states.

The unit provided daily medevac coverage and medical supply and personnel movement on the islands of St. Croix, Saint Thomas, and St. John. It was a task for which the Soldiers were well-prepared, because they regularly conduct overwater training and medevac hoist training.

In addition to the groups returning over the past several days, approximately 650 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops deployed to Florida in September where they provided humanitarian relief, security and traffic control support to communities in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Soon thereafter, airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing, 115th Fighter Wing and Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center deployed in the wake of Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide airfield management support, a mobile kitchen team, and communications capabilities for critical infrastructure like the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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