Tennessee National Guard sends support to U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma


National Guard soldiers took off Wednesday from Nashville to bring support to the U.S. Virgin Islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma.

Four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and 34 soldiers with the Tennessee Army National Guard are heading to areas in the Caribbean that were devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The groups main mission is to bring much needed humanitarian aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where food and water are hard to come by.

Hurricane Irma made landfall as a category 5 storm last weekend on the United States Virgin Islands, leaving dozens of people dead and property destroyed.

"That area is devastated," Warrant Officer Josh Robertson said. "We've all seen the pictures on TV and online. We know it's devastated. We're happy to go. We're ready."

The 34 soldiers are with the 1/230th of the Tennessee Army National Guard assisted by the 118th Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard.

Their main mission is search and rescue, along with bringing humanitarian aid to devastated areas.

"A lot of local churches and communities in Nashville have compiled goods to send to those areas," Chief Warrant Officer Justin Babb said. "We're the means to take those goods that this community presents to these other places and deliver those into the public there."

Major Paul Jancsy, out of the 105th New York Air National Guard is flying C-17's to the Caribbean loaded with two Blackhawk helicopters and soldiers.

"We're flying the Tennessee Army National Guard to the U.S. Virgin Islands so they can use helicopters to assist in relief efforts," Jancsy said.

The 118th Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard is also sending a chaplain this week to St. Croix to assist in the region and running domestic operations unit to gather with satellite imagery to locate devastated areas.

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