Guam Guard gets helicopters for medical transport missions - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam Guard gets helicopters for medical transport missions

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Just as the United States Army is set to celebrate its 240th birthday, the Guam National Guard is making history by welcoming aviation assets that will not only allow for medivac operations, but improved search and rescue missions.

Brigadier General Roderick Leon Guerrero says out of the 50 US states and four territories, Guam is the only National Guard unit that does not have a flying mission. That, however, all changes as the Guam Army National Guard welcomes two helicopters to its Aviation Unit. "The helicopters are UH-72 Lakota's and their main mission of the Lakota's is the medivac," said the general. "We do have the capability to modify it and do a search and rescue mission but it's really used for medivac."

And while he's only been the adjutant general for the Guam National Guard for a few months, Leon Guerrero considers this a historic moment for the island. He said, "It just reflects on our ability to conduct a mission and it shows the maturity of the Guam Guard. The Guam Guard is the youngest of the 54 states and territories, so it just shows that we're mature."

The two helicopters were transported from Washington, DC to Guam just this past weekend. The training of local soldiers as pilots and medics is expected to help grow the island's local capacity to participate in search and rescue operations and provide support for homeland security and natural disasters. "I'm very excited and I started as a medic, so I understand the importance of medivac," Leon Guerrero continued. "Our two medics are paramedics - they're in the process of getting trained. One should be back in two months and the other should finish in December so its significant where we can help out people who need to be medivac, and people have medical issues that can't be reached by normal transportation, two (helicopters) can help them do that."

The idea of "Guam Aviation" has actually been in the works for more than three years. Operations are set to begin in 2016. "What we want to make sure everything is safe, starting up the engine, making sure everything is safe and making sure all people are properly trained," said the general.

Leon Guerrero says while these two aircrafts are all we can expect for now, they are looking at gaining more force structure soon. The aircraft are currently being housed at Andersen Air Force Base until a maintenance hangar is completed at the Guard's Readiness Center in Barrigada by December.

The Guam Army National Guard meanwhile will celebrate the United States Army's 240th birthday on Friday with a cake-cutting ceremony at 2pm in building 700 at the Guard's Readiness Center in Barrigada.

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