News | Sept. 19, 2017

Soldiers aid Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis returned home Sept. 5, 2017, after supporting supply-delivery efforts for Texas residents stranded by flood waters following Hurricane Harvey.

Throughout a three-day span, Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 5th Battalion (General Support Aviation Battalion), 159th Aviation Regiment at JBLE conducted relief operations for citizens in Orange, Texas, and neighboring areas east of Houston. 

Mobilized to assist the 7th Btn. (GSAB), 159th Avn. Reg., from Conroe, Texas, JBLE’s Soldiers delivered roughly 500,000 pounds of cargo to remote locations, using their partnering unit’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

As the Bravo crew provided supplies to those in need, community members offered food and water to the Soldiers for their efforts, said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Smith, B-Co., 5th Btn. (GSAB), 159th Avn. Reg. flight engineer.

“Everyone was so incredibly thankful we were there to help,” said Smith. “There were so many people there helping to move water or donating water. The catch-phrase, ‘Americans helping Americans,’ was happening all around us.”

With widespread destruction, the team flew more than 80 miles from their station to provide aid to those stuck in high flood waters.

“The first day we flew over areas where the flood waters were up to the roofs of the houses and interstates were cut off by the water,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Pavlik, B-Co., 5th Btn. (GSAB), 159th Avn. Reg. standardization pilot. “Just knowing people lost everything they had in those houses fueled our desire to fly every mission out there.”

For reservists like Smith and Pavlik, being a part of a humanitarian effort hits close to home.

“Being able to do something for the community, whether it is local or just within the U.S., is a good feeling and we love to give back,” said Smith. “Especially being a part of the reserve force, most reservists really take to heart the ‘Citizen Soldier’ motto.”

The Chinook crew from JBLE believes their efforts to ensure the safety and security of those affected by Hurricane Harvey is an important piece of their military service.

“For the last 16 years or so, the military has been to Iraq or Afghanistan and the American people don’t know all the good stuff that we do at home,” said Smith. “Our time in Texas shows the country we are not just out in defense, we are always here to help at home.”

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