September 12, 2007 Edition

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Air Guard visits WR airport, meets
with fire and emergency personnel


Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins (left) visits with Lt. Col. Louis Teer of the Little Rock Air Force Base. A crew of seven members of the Arkansas National Guard flew this C-130 airplane to Walnut Ridge on Monday.
John Bland
Publisher

A crew of seven members from the Little Rock Air Force Base flew a C-130 aircraft Monday morning to Walnut Ridge, where local and area fire and emergency personnel met with them and toured the aircraft.

The crew is part of the Arkansas Air National Guard, 189th Airlift Wing, 154th Training Squadron, and their visit to Walnut Ridge Regional Airport's Swindle Field served a two-fold purpose.

The visit gave them a chance to see the local airport, which could be used in the event of an emergency, and it gave area fire and emergency personnel an opportunity to learn more about the C-130, which is designed to carry enormous loads of cargo. Personnel from the Walnut Ridge Fire Department, Sedgwick and Cherokee Village, as well as from Arkansas Excellent Transport, were present to learn more about the aircraft.

Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins had contacted Ken Newcom, airport manager, who asked the squadron to visit here in the C-130.

Lt. Col. Louis Teer, director of operations for the squadron, said, "What we see this airport for is disaster response. If there is ever an earthquake on the New Madrid Fault, we would use this and other airports to bring in supplies.

"We would use this airport as a hub," he added.

The C-130s are like "a flying dump truck," Teer said. The planes can hold approximately 40,000 pounds of cargo, which can be dropped from the sky or off-loaded after landing.

"The C-130s can bring supplies or be used as an air ambulance," Teer said. After Hurricane Katrina, Teer said he made 14 sorties or trips hauling critically ill patients out of the Katrina-stricken area of New Orleans.

"We teach the instructor school for every C-130 pilot in the world," Teer said of his squadron. "We're the most experienced C-130 unit on the planet."

Sr. Sgt. Gary Ash, ground safety manager for the 189th, said the squadron had planned to visit the Walnut Ridge airport and other airports for an earthquake preparedness drill in 2001, but the 9-11 terrorist attacks occurred around that time and changed those plans.

Ash said their crew would be visiting Stuttgart after the stop in Walnut Ridge.

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