Release No. 050805
August 31, 2005
AIR FORCE SPECIAL OPERATIONS OPENS NEW ORLEANS AIRPORT RUNWAY
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. - Air Force Special Operations Command will fly an MC-130 aircraft into New Orleans International Airport tonight with a small team of special operations forces to work to reopen the runway.
A team of combat controllers and a small medical team will work to establish operations at the airport, which has no electricity or air traffic control. Combat controllers are certified air traffic controllers and special operators who can open airfields deep behind enemy lines or in other hazardous areas.
The combat controllers will set self-powered lights and other navigational aids, then function as air traffic controllers with portable radios so that other military aircraft can land and help evacuate around 2,500 ill, or injured persons from the New Orleans area.
The deployed aircraft include 19 HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters specifically designed to find and recover individuals in hazardous areas. AFSOC has also deployed 11 C-130 aircraft with various special mission capabilities, including helicopter refueling and the ability to operate from dirt or unimproved airfields.
AFSOC has sent pararescuemen and combat controllers to Jackson to work in conjunction with the aircraft. Pararescuemen are highly trained emergency medical technician special operators. Combat controllers and pararescuemen are accustomed to operating in the most difficult and hostile conditions and are trained in numerous special operations skills such as SCUBA and parachute operations.
Pardon me my pride.