Members of the Oklahoma National Guard are returning home after completing their Hurricane Ida relief mission in Southeast Louisiana.
The National Guard says that nearly 500 Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard members volunteered to give up their Labor Day weekends in order to supply aid to those affected by Hurricane Ida.
Over the course of two and a half weeks, officials say the Task Force Oklahoma provided food, water, ice and other supplies to more than 77,000 families across 30 sites and 14 parishes in the state.
Guardsmen also participated in humanitarian missions traveling through affected neighborhoods to hand out water and ice to families in need.
“We got the call from Louisiana [asking for help from the Oklahoma National Guard] and [all of you] answered the call,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma, while visiting Oklahoma Guardsmen in Louisiana. “For me it's a little sentimental being down here today, because 16 years ago, pretty much to the day, I deployed to New Orleans after [Hurricane] Katrina left a path of devastation like few people had ever seen. Now, to have so many Soldiers [and Airmen] volunteer to be here, it’s just the spirit of the National Guard.”
“I feel like I’m actually doing what I joined the military for,” said Spc. Caleb Galloway, horizontal construction specialist with Bravo Company, 545th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “I joined the Guard because I felt like I had more to offer to the citizens of the United States. If I can physically help someone, I’m going to.”
The mission involved Soldiers and Airmen. Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Wing and 138th Fighter Wing helped 7,879 families at five PODs in three parishes.
"We volunteered to be here,” said Airman 1st Class Jordan Terry, a crew chief with the 138th Fighter Wing. “It’s just taking care of our neighbors, and that’s why we volunteered and that’s why we joined.”
The Oklahoma National Guard says that following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, Oklahoma received help from hundreds of organizations located in every part of the nation including Louisiana.
“When we were in need, people came to our aid and that's really what the Guard is about,” Thompson said. “It’s good that we're in a position to help a different state when they have an expressed need. I think our Soldiers and Airmen really feel good about being here and helping this community.”
The Soldiers and Airmen of Task Force Oklahoma concluded operations on Sept. 14 and returned to Oklahoma in small groups over the following two days, they said.
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