NEWS | Oct. 20, 2008

U.S. military assists Honduran crews during Comayagua flood rescue

By Tech. Sgt. John Asselin Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

U.S. military members from Joint Task Force-Bravo rescued four people from flood waters Oct. 19 in Comayagua, Honduras.

The JTF-Bravo Emergency Response Team was alerted about 9:40 a.m. to assist local Honduran emergency teams in rescue operations, according to Lt. Col. Richard Somers, JTF-Bravo Army Forces commander.

"We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of the people of Honduras, so we responded immediately to the request for assistance," Colonel Somers said.

The coordinated rescues were in an area of Comayagua overcome by water when flood gates were opened on a dam to save the structure from failing.

"We worked closely with the local firefighter rescue teams and COPECO (the Honduran disaster relief agency)," Colonel Somers said. "It was truly a coordinated effort with our partners here in Honduras."

Aircrews on two medical evacuation helicopters from the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment extracted a total of four people trapped in trees by the rising flood waters, according to Maj. Bobby Haskin, 1-228th director of operations.

"Each MEDEVAC aircraft rescued two personnel using the hoist," Major Haskin said. "We lowered crew chiefs down to trees where distressed people were attempting to avoid flood waters. One of the MEDEVAC crew chiefs had to drop into the water and swim to those holding on to trees."

The rescue missions concluded about 1 p.m. after flood waters receded.