A wildfire grew out of control in the evening hours of Oct. 24, prompting local officials to call for evacuations of citizens in the fire’s path. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency requested the Tennessee National Guard to provide aviation support to help extinguish the fire.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. a four-man helicopter crew departed from Nashville’s Berry Field Air National Guard Base. The Guardsmen flew a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with a Bambi Bucket, which is used to provide a large quantity of water to fight wildfires. The aircraft made its way to Warren County and immediately started making trips into the affected area to extinguish the blaze.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Wadham and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph piloted the helicopter. Sgt. 1st Class William Taylor and Sgt. Robert De Nise was the crew chief. Together, the four Guardsmen successfully made 33 trips from a local water source in the area to the location of the fire, dropping more than 22,000 gallons of water.
A second Blackhawk helicopter and another four-man crew remained on standby if needed, however, the Guardsmen and local responders on the scene controlled the wildfire until rain swept through the area later that afternoon. The crew returned to Berry Field Air National Guard Base and the mission was completed at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“The joint effort between the Tennessee Army National Guard and the firefighters from the Tennessee Department of Forestry directly aided in keeping the fire contained and prevented loss of land, structures, and life,” said Col. Patrick Wade, Tennessee’s State Aviation Officer. “We regularly train to maintain the skillset required for this mission and that training definitely paid off Tuesday.”
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Cordeiro
Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office