UTANG Airmen support Hurricane Irma relief efforts

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Danny Whitlock
  • 151 Air Refueling Wing
 Six Airmen assigned to the 151st Communications Flight at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base here are slated to depart Sept. 7 for the island of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide communications support in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The Airmen are part of a Joint Incident Site Communications Capabilities team, which will be staged at St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands until damage assessments are complete and aircraft are able to land in St. Thomas.

"The diverse training and well-maintained equipment we have in the Utah Air National Guard allows us to mobilize rapidly when our nation calls,” said Col. Kristin Streukens, commander of the 151st Air Refueling Wing. “The mission of our communication package is to restore command and control after a disaster.  We can bridge first-responder communication which allows for immediate action within hours of the disaster."

 Once on the Islands, the team will establish critical tactical communications to enable interoperability for military and civil authority support agencies.

“Our task will be to provide communication support to help local radio stations, and serve as intermediate responder communications until native communications are back up.” said Staff Sgt. Anthony Bacca, a cyber support specialist assigned to the 151st CF. “Once communications are up, we can act as additional contact points for further communication relays.”

Over the past 21 months the 151st Communications Flight has supported various

communications requirements here in Utah, across the country, and outside of the U.S., said Capt. Amy Bocage, commander of the 151st CF.

“The opportunity to support the local community and others all over the world by serving in the Utah Air National Guard is such an honor,” Bocage said.  “Upon returning from these tasking operations, members are instilled with a sense of accomplishment and pride to see that all their hard work is making a difference.”

The UTANG members will remain in St. Thomas as long as it is deemed necessary to support the domestic operations mission.