'We've got a mission to do'; N.C. Air Guard Heads to Arizona - | WBTV Charlotte

'We've got a mission to do'; N.C. Air Guard Heads to Arizona

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

By the time another sunrise rolls around, members of the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte will among the heroes helping fight wildfires in Arizona.

"We operate to take care of our neighbors and if they need us, they call..we're out there," Commander Roger Williams, Jr. said.

The call comes at the request of the U.S. Forest Service to provide Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130s aircraft.

Fire fighting operations began June 11 and to date close to 200,000 gallons of fire retardant has been dropped over Arizona and Colorado.

"To come home and find your home is burnt to the ground..you've lost everything is devastating. We continue to do this mission and do it well to make sure the least amount of damage is done by these wildfires," Master Sgt Jermaine Parker said.

This mission falls a week after the anniversary of a C-130 crash in South Dakota that killed four airman from the 145th.

"There's is an element of danger to everything we do but that's a responsibility we accept..that's why we train so hard so we can eliminate those risks," Parker said. "I'm all full time technician out here..most of the guys we lost were full time..I've known them for years. It's not just on missions, it's everyday we think about them."

"Doing it again this year is special to all of us especially we were just out in South Dakota near the memorial site..so to get back out into the fight is significant to us...for me personally, it's an emotional event," Williams said.

Two MAFFS planes and one support plane left Charlotte Douglas shortly after 10 a.m. About 30 members of the 145th will make the trip. Crews will rotate out every 8-10 days.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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