Soldiers from the South Carolina Army National Guard headed to Texas May 21, 2018, in support of Operation Guardian Support, President Trump’s mission to secure the southern border. One UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the 2-151 Aviation Battalion, along with three crew members departed from the Donaldson Flight facility in Greenville, after being delayed by weather conditions the week prior.
“We are pleased our Soldiers were able to finally depart, with three flight crew on the Lakota who will join six maintenance Soldiers who traveled by ground,” said U.S. Army Col. Andrew Batten, the State Aviation Officer and Commander of the 59th Aviation Troop Command, South Carolina Army National Guard.
This is not the first time the South Carolina Army National Guard has provided border security support. In the late 1990s, the 122nd Engineer Battalion and 122d Engineer Company built part of the existing Border Wall in the San Diego area. In 2007, the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 2-151 Security & Support Battalion provided 2-OH58 Kiowa aircraft and 20 personnel in support of security operations along the Arizona-Mexico border in 2007 for Operation Jump Start. In 2012, the South Carolina Army National Guard stood up a command element in support of the Texas Military Department to provide surveillance support to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for Operation Phalanx. Other states continued rotating for this mission, where the South Carolina Army National Guard has filled in gaps for short durations, sending individual Soldiers and UH-72 helicopters. In 2016, the South Carolina Army National Guard again supported Operation Phalanx, providing 15 Soldiers and two UH-72 Lakota helicopters.
“The highly trained men and women of the South Carolina National Guard are ready and able to support President Trump’s mission to secure our country’s border, and our entire state is grateful for their service and sacrifice,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
According to Batten, the air crew stopped enroute in Mississippi for an overnight and are scheduled to arrive in Austin, Texas, May 22, 2018.
“Both of the pilots who departed have done border security support multiple times between Operation Jump Start in Arizona and in Operation Phalanx in Texas,” said Batten. “They are an experienced crew who know this mission very well supporting the U.S. Border Patrol.”
The nine Soldiers are expected to be on the border by May 25. An additional UH-72 Lakota and three flight crew from the South Carolina Army National Guard are scheduled to augment support later in June. The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter primarily used for aerial surveillance and passenger movement.
“This is about neighbors helping neighbors, just as they have helped us,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, the adjutant general for South Carolina. “We appreciate the continued strong support from the citizens of South Carolina and our elected officials. I know our Soldiers will do an outstanding job helping our neighbors in Texas.”