185th Air Base Serves as Air Operations Center for Flood Relief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rich Murphy
  • 185th Public Affairs
As river levels along the Missouri River continue to increase, a multi-state joint forces team of National Guard members are assisting in the flood relief efforts in the Siouxland area. Col. Bud Day Field, home of the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa, is currently serving as the center for much of the air support operations.

Over 400 National Guard members have been activated to provide support to many of the communities along the Missouri who are in danger of flooding. Besides filling and throwing sandbags, many of the guardsmen have been tasked to provide security across the levees. Currently four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Minnesota and Iowa National Guard and a CH-47 Chinook from the Illinois Army National Guard are providing support by delivering sandbags to many of the critical areas along the river. 

The aerial units are also working along with the Swift Water Rescue Team to prepare for any emergency evacuation missions that may occur as a result of the flooding. Most of the aircraft are currently equipped with rescue hoists in case an emergency evacuation is needed.

Chief Warrant Officer Christian Frank, South Dakota's State Aviation Safety Officer for the Army, said "Over the last week, we have witnessed some amazing engineering. The coordination between all of the guard units has been fantastic. This is really a success story."

He added, "Our guys have experience in the past with hurricanes and flooding. The level of support and interaction we are experiencing now should serve as a model for how these operations should be run."

With several KC-135s deployed around the world, the airfield at the 185th ARW has just enough space on the flight line to support the air operations. Tech Sgt. Dave Henson and Staff Sgt. Kiel Hamann have been tasked to prepare the airfield for the unique needs of the helicopters.

Tech Sgt. Henson, a previous Helicopter Crew Chief in both the Air Force and the Army and now a Crew Chief for the KC-135 at the 185th ARW, said that setting up the airfield was initially a difficult task. "First, we had to designate an area just for the helicopters. Then we had to setup hover areas and refueling areas. We also had to set up a system to get in the necessary parts for maintenance and provide support for the maintainers here. We were working about 16 to 18 hour days getting set up."

The 185th ARW and the various helicopter units are currently engaging in a hot refueling procedure. During this procedure, the helicopters land and refuel without shutting the engine down, which saves both time and fuel during the ongoing missions.

Chief Warrant Officer Frank said, "The people here at the 185th have been great. We have received fantastic support from everyone on this base. The way we are working together makes the things we are able to do possible."

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