302nd AEG conducts its twentieth day of California wild fire support

By Staff Sergeant Luke Johnson | 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs | July 15, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aircraft of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group stand ready to begin their 20th day of aerial firefighting support missions July 14 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.

Monday, aerial assets of the 302nd AEG did not performing aerial firefighting missions due limited visibility over the fires. For the current fire fighting operations, the 302nd AEG aerial assets have conducted 985 drops, numbering more than 1,350,000 gallons of fire retardant and water. 

The 302nd AEG is made up of eight Air Force MAFFS-capable C-130 aircraft and six Marine Corps helicopters operating out of McClellan Airfield, Calif. and two Navy Reserve helicopters operating out of NAS Lemoore, Calif. 

The 302nd AEG C-130 aircraft units include three Air National Guard units – the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, Calif., and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo., and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Three Marine helicopter units – Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron (HMMT)   164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268, both based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego – fly CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with specialized fire fighting buckets.

United States Navy Reserve helicopters flying at NAS Lemoore are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 85 based out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.  The squadron is flying MH-60S helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets. 

The 302nd AEG provides unique capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

USNORTHCOM continues to closely monitor the California wildfires to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal, and state civil authorities and will launch as many missions as officials require to battle the wildfires.

Fire information is current as of 10 a.m. July 15.