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Fairchild stages Washington National Guard Blackhawks to fight wildfires

Two Washington National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters launched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fairchild AFB to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire,” Aug. 1, 2018. WNG efforts are currently focused on keeping the fire south of Sheep Creek, located north of Colville National Forest near the United States-Canadian border. Five 20-member local fire-fighting hand crews are already deployed fighting the fire, very soon to be aided by the WNG and its citizen soldiers. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown)

Two Washington National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters launched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fairchild AFB to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire,” Aug. 1, 2018. WNG efforts are currently focused on keeping the fire south of Sheep Creek, located north of Colville National Forest near the United States-Canadian border. Five 20-member local fire-fighting hand crews are already deployed fighting the fire, very soon to be aided by the WNG and its citizen soldiers. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown)

U.S. Army aircrew members walk from two Washington National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. In the wake of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declaring a wildfire state of emergency July 31, two Blackhawk helicopters launched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fairchild AFB to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire,” which has consumed more than 20-acres of land so far. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown)

U.S. Army aircrew members walk from two Washington National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. In the wake of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declaring a wildfire state of emergency July 31, two Blackhawk helicopters launched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fairchild AFB to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire,” which has consumed more than 20-acres of land so far. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown)

U.S. Army CWC Tim Thrope, 96th Aviation Troop Command co-pilot assigned to JBLM, stows his aviation helmet at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Two Washington National Guard Blackhawks were staged at Fairchild to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire.” Washington National Guard efforts are currently focused on keeping the fire south of Sheep Creek, located north of Colville National Forest near the United States-Canadian border. Five 20-member local fire-fighting hand crews are already deployed fighting the fire, very soon to be aided by the WNG and its citizen soldiers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

U.S. Army CWC Tim Thrope, 96th Aviation Troop Command co-pilot assigned to JBLM, stows his aviation helmet at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Two Washington National Guard Blackhawks were staged at Fairchild to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire.” Washington National Guard efforts are currently focused on keeping the fire south of Sheep Creek, located north of Colville National Forest near the United States-Canadian border. Five 20-member local fire-fighting hand crews are already deployed fighting the fire, very soon to be aided by the WNG and its citizen soldiers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

Washington National Guard petroleum, oil and lubricants Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing fuel two WNG Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Team Fairchild Airmen typically fuel KC-135 Stratotankers, but that skillset is flexible to allow them to fuel numerous mission partner airframes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

Washington National Guard petroleum, oil and lubricants Airmen from the 141st Air Refueling Wing fuel two WNG Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Team Fairchild Airmen typically fuel KC-135 Stratotankers, but that skillset is flexible to allow them to fuel numerous mission partner airframes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

U.S. Army SGT. William Hust, 96th Aviation Troop Command crew chief assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, paints the tail of a Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Two Washington National Guard Blackhawks were staged at Fairchild to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire.” By painting the helicopters with pink-colored paint, the helicopters are more visible to ground crews they’re supporting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

U.S. Army SGT. William Hust, 96th Aviation Troop Command crew chief assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, paints the tail of a Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 1, 2018. Two Washington National Guard Blackhawks were staged at Fairchild to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire.” By painting the helicopters with pink-colored paint, the helicopters are more visible to ground crews they’re supporting. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

In the wake of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declaring a wildfire state of emergency last night, two Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters launched from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Fairchild AFB to fight the wildfire dubbed “The Sheep Creek Fire,” which has consumed more than 20-acres of land so far.

Washington National Guard efforts are currently focused on keeping the fire south of Sheep Creek, located north of Colville National Forest near the United States-Canadian border. Five 20-member local fire-fighting hand crews are already deployed fighting the fire, very soon to be aided by the WNG and its citizen soldiers.

“My day-to-day is warfighting and my full-time job is to make sure all Blackhawk crews are prepared for deployments,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Noel Larson, 96th Aviation Troop Command standardization pilot assigned to JBLM, who has been called upon 7 times to fight fires during his 25 years of military service. “In this situation, we’re here to cool down the wildfires and allow the people on the ground to come out and actually put the fire out.”

Blackhawks are near synonymous with warfighting, but the flexibility and mission set of the WNG allows them to effectively deploy the helicopter to fight fires by delivering more precise water drops than fixed-wing airframes.

None of this would be possible without Fairchild’s staging support.

“[Fairchild] is our closest link to any sort of logistical support we need, whether it be parts, maintenance, changing of personnel or any other needs that may arise,” Larson said.

Everyone is playing a part in this mission, including air traffic controllers, refueling, and other Fairchild personnel and resources, Larson added.

Fairchild is providing the stage while the 96th ATC is providing vital water to combat the Sheep Creek fire.

“We’re going to be flying and dropping water onto fires with all different types of aircraft,” said Army Specialist Noah Marshman, 96th ATC crew chief assigned to JBLM. “This is our bread and butter; being out and fighting fires is a chance to put our training to good use.”

When you join a flight company you don’t join for the cameras and the interviews. You join because you want to fly, do your job and make a difference for people, Marshman continued.

Receiving and staging two Blackhawks is not a typical day for the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings and its mission partners, but what is typical is Team Fairchild’s readiness to support all mobility partners. Team Fairchild’s ability to support and project Air Power at a moments’ notice continues to ensure the success of military missions around the world, both in combat and in humanitarian missions.