It doesn't matter if it's a hurricane, wildfires or flooding, the Iowa National Guard says it's ready to answer the call of duty. When a flood-ravaged Colorado sent out the call for help, Iowa answered it.
Today, nine soldiers from across the state packed up and headed west. The pilots, crew chiefs and aircraft fuelers will provide Medevac support in Colorado. They're equipped and trained to fly Black Hawk helicopters in rough terrain.
“This will be my first state active duty,” says 22-year-old Specialist Troy Lester.
Other soldiers in the unit are combat veterans.
“We're very familiar with the mission, we're very well-trained, very well-prepared, very excited to be able to do a stay-at-home stateside mission,” says Chief Warrant Officer Jason Cutsforth.
The 31-year-old pilot returned from flying medevac missions in Afghanistan in June.
“The state of Colorado has similar topography and terrain such as Afghanistan,” he says.
While they didn't expect to deploy again so soon, the Iowa soldiers didn't hesitate to volunteer for the job.
“Those guys are busy out in Colorado so anything that we can do to help, definitely willing to do,” says Sgt. Joseph Sinnwell.
In 2011, Colorado guard units came to help with flood relief efforts. They dropped sand bags in the South Dakota and Sioux City, Iowa area. This is the state’s chance to return the favor.
“It's just neighbors helping neighbors. We may not be geographically put together, but we're all Americans,” says Iowa Air National Guard Capt. Brandon Cochran.
“It's so much pride for us to be able to be citizens helping other Americans in times of need,” says Cutsforth.
The soldiers will be based in Aurora and are expected to remain on duty in Colorado until October 11th.