34 soldiers with Tennessee National Guard headed to Virgin Islands

Tennessee Army National Guard Soldiers of the 1-230th Aviation Regiment load a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter on to a New York Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III to assist in recovery efforts in the US Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma. (Courtesy: Air National Guard)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Four Blackhawk helicopters and 34 soldiers with the Tennessee Army National Guard are headed to help with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts.

They’ll be working in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which received catastrophic damage when Irma made landfall on Sept. 6.

The helicopters and supplies were loaded onto C17 Globemaster III and C130 Hercules aircraft from New York and Rhode Island at Joint Base Berry Field late Wednesday afternoon.

“The area is devastated,” said Capt. Josh Robertson of White House, Tennessee. “We’ve all seen the pictures on TV and online. We know it’s devastated. So we’re happy to go. We’re ready.”

“We all feel very eager to volunteer, get down there and do our part to help out in the relief of the Virgin Islands,” said Warrant Officer Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro.

The helicopter teams will provide air assistance for disaster relief, moving supplies and personnel where they’re needed most. They’ll also conduct search and rescue missions, if needed.

Major Paul Jancsy and Colonel John Lewis of the New York Air National Guard piloted one of the C17 transport planes that ferried the Blackhawks.

News 2 spoke with Major Jancsy in the cockpit before takeoff.

“Part of being in the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, is you finally get to help out at home,” said Major Jancsy. “All of us are combat vets. We all served overseas in multiple wars. We wanted to continue serving. So once we got out of active duty, we joined the Air Guard. And this is the best part, as soon as the call came, everybody stands up, everybody volunteers, and everybody does their part.”

So far there’s no timetable on how long those soldiers and airmen will be deployed.

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