Two Delaware National Guard C-130s and flight crews returned this week from a five-day mission assisting with hurricane relief efforts in the Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Two Delaware National Guard C-130s and flight crews returned this week from a five-day mission assisting with hurricane relief efforts in the Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While deployed, Delaware National Guard Airmen flew a total of more than 60 hours, transported 100 personnel, and more than 50 tons of cargo, according to a press release from Lt. Col. Len Gratteri. These two crews remain on duty and on standby for follow-on missions.

One aircraft flew to Minnesota to pick up a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability package, which is a portable, turn-key satellite communications system, along with a team of operators, military vehicles, and a pallet of equipment. This mission went to assist in Puerto Rico, Lt. Col. Gratteri said.

Another mission to assist Puerto Rico involved delivering vehicles, generators, emergency aid personnel, and medical equipment. This aircraft also evacuated about 40 people stranded in Puerto Rico, and transported them safely to Savannah, Georgia.

"The National Guard has the expertise in supporting the Homeland, and this is just another example of citizen-Soldiers and Airmen at their best," said Maj. Gen. Carol Timmons, Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard. "We are leaning forward as much as possible. We have hundreds of troops who are prepared and eager to answer the call."

However, the Delaware National Guard cannot unilaterally send support. This is a nationally coordinated response and Delaware can only be tasked by the National Guard Bureau (NGB), using federal funds, or through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), using state funds. The Delaware National Guard is in close communication with NGB for federal taskings, and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency for support through EMAC.

"Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico are suffering, and Delaware continues to stand ready to assist them," said Gov. John Carney. "We will continue to look for ways to send needed resources and personnel to help our fellow citizens in need. Thank you to members of our Delaware National Guard for their important service."

For the past month, tens of thousands of citizen-soldiers, airmen and women have answered the call in supporting the homeland, and Delaware is a strong partner. Since the end of August, about 50 Delaware National Guardsmen and women have deployed to support the relief effort.

At the end of August, the Delaware National Guard sent about a dozen soldiers and airmen to the National Guard Bureau to assist in staffing the NGB Joint Operations Center, according to Lt. Col. Gratteri. These positions include experts in communications, operations, intelligence, logistics, and public affairs. We also launched a C-130 and flight crew to Texas. That team flew 11 sorties, transported 31 emergency aid personnel, more than 24 tons of cargo, and evacuated 183 people to safety.

On Labor Day weekend, the Delaware National Guard deployed a team from its 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron via C-130 aircraft to help in Texas. This team is comprised of flight nurses, aeromedical evacuation technicians, and a health services administrator. Fortunately, the team was not needed for any medical emergencies and returned home safely.

"We currently have about 30 on duty and hundreds ready to support engineering, aviation, communications, transportation, vehicle and equipment maintenance, security, and medical needs," Lt. Col. Grateri said.