Hancock Field Deploys to Support Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
By Maj. Jeffrey D. Brown, 174ATKW/PA
/ Published November 02, 2012
Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- One hundred forty members of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard have deployed to New York City and Long Island to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The Guardsmen are expected to be gone for seven to 10 days.
"Seeing the tunnels flooding and the water coming out of those subways, it's amazing. Seeing the streets of New York City just empty of people, which is a good thing, obviously. It's amazing to see that happen unfortunately," said Lt. Col. Ron Berzins, 174th Attack Wing.
The 174th picked up dozens of Humvees at Fort Drum Tuesday morning. After refueling and picking up supplies at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, they headed down to Camp Smith near Peekskill, New York. Others headed to Long Island to set up emergency communications systems.
"We had more volunteers than we needed than were tasked for it. People are anxious. They're all raising their hand. They all want to go. There's a look of disappointment for those that didn't get chosen. So it's always great to be a part of a team that wants to do this and help others," said Lt. Col. Berzins.
"I don't know if it's cleaning up or driving through neighborhoods, making sure everyone's taken care of, meeting immediate needs of people who might need food or water or supplies. We have the Humvees here that can drive through the flooded streets, so we can bring the supplies to them," said Lt. Col. Berzins.
Some of these airmen were deployed to help with Irene recovery efforts last year. They expect a similar mission.
"Much like this, we didn't really have a specific mission set other than to get down there, set up some command and control and get some boots on the ground so we can assist wherever down in the city," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Hancock, 174th Attack Wing.
Airman 1st Class Steve Mueller, 174th Attack Wing, added, "Establish communications if we can. That's our primary job. But really just help everyone out."
Whatever their mission, all those deploying say they're prepared to help.