Utah Air National Guard Assists with Equipment to Search for Trapped Miners

 

Written by Master Sgt. Burke Baker

Published August 13, 2007

 

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Air Guard personnel offload the vehicle containing specialized camera equipment bound for Huntington, Utah, to help locate six trapped miners.

Photo by Shad West

Air Guard personnel offload the vehicle containing specialized camera equipment bound for Huntington, Utah, to help locate six trapped miners.

SALT LAKE CITY — At the request of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah Air National Guard assisted with airlifting a critical piece of equipment Aug. 9 to support rescue operations for six Utah miners trapped deep inside the earth since the Crandall Canyon Coal Mine collapsed three days earlier.

Within hours of receiving the request for help, the airlift operation was coordinated between Air National Guard units in Mississippi, Kansas and Utah for the vital piece of underground video equipment to use in the rescue effort.

"This mission is typical of what the National Guard is all about," said Col. William Crisler, commander of the 172nd Airlift Wing, based in Jackson, Miss. "We're always ready to respond in a moment's notice to help our citizens in a time of need."

Airmen from the Utah Air Guard's 151st Air Refueling Wing assisted in the arrival of the C-17 Globemaster III from the 172nd Airlift Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard. The aircraft transported the equipment supplied by Substrata Camera Services of Knoxville, Tenn., from its location in Topeka, Kan.

"This equipment will allow me to position a camera in the mine and assess the situation from a whole, 360-degree angle," said A.L. Clark by telephone, a technician with Substrata. "Rescue crews will have a better idea of what they are dealing with once we are on site and online."

Lt. Col. David Buck, 172nd Airlift Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, explains the details of the mission to Utah reporters Aug. 9.

Photo by Shad West

Lt. Col. David Buck, 172nd Airlift Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, explains the details of the mission to Utah reporters Aug. 9.

Once on the ground in Utah, Substrata employee George Rollins drove the specialized vehicle from Salt Lake City on the two-and-a-half-hour trip to the mine location near Huntington with a Utah Highway Patrol escort.

Interestingly, it didn't take much longer than that to coordinate the entire mission to get the camera equipment from Kansas to Utah.

"This has been a multistate effort, and it is amazing at how fast it has gotten done," said Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. "It is important for people to realize that there are Guardsmen from many states who have these families in their thoughts and prayers and are working hard to help them in any way they can." 

"It was a privilege to assist on this mission that may save the miners' lives," added Loadmaster Senior Master Sgt. Allen Randall of the 172nd Airlift Wing.

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