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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Virginia National Guard helicopter crew departs to support Southwest border mission
SANDSTON, Va. - Soldiers from Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment departed today for the Texas border aboard a UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the Virginia National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Va.
The four-person crew will provide aerial reconnaissance support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in support of the national effort to counter illegal immigration along the U.S. Southwest Border. Approximately 15 Virginia Guard Soldiers will rotate through Texas between now and the end of October in support of the National Guard border mission.
Virginia pilots and maintainers last supported U.S. Customs and Border Protection with aerial reconnaissance support along the U.S. southwest border from Aug. 27 to Dec. 6, 2013. During their previous rotation along the border, Virginia Guard Soldiers directly supported the apprehension of more than 1,800 illegal immigrants, to include human traffickers and narcotics smugglers. They also assisted Customs and Border Protection agents in the seizure of more than 1,500 pounds of narcotics with an estimated street value of over $1.25 million.
During their time in Texas, the Virginia Guard Soldiers worked under the Texas National Guard and alongside air crews and aircraft from states including South Carolina, Florida, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Each rotation of Soldiers included pilots, crew chiefs, and maintainers to keep the aircraft flying and Virginia Guard Soldiers filled additional manpower gaps, even helping to fly other state's aircraft as needed.
While in Texas, Virginia Guard air crews flew 627 mission hours, which amounted to 68% of the total mission hours flown by all aircraft. Of the five aircraft on site, Virginia's Lakota flew 287 of the mission hours, or 31 percent of the total hours flown, which was 21 percent more than the second most flown aircraft.
Virginia Guard aviators also supported the Southwest Border mission in 2008. Soldiers from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment spent weeks assisting United States Customs and Border Protection with the effort to secure the U.S./ Mexico border in Arizona as Task Force Raven and Task Force Diamondback for Operation Jump Start.