Service marked by SAR, disaster relief
The Washington Wing has handled several catastrophes, including the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption that triggered mudflows, ashfalls and floods. Members assisted with search and rescue missions and strategy, communications, weather updates, air traffic control, air safety and mission evaluation. They maintained missing person lists and staffed shelters and emergency operations centers, and four aviation units operated SAR missions in three counties.
When 1997 ice storms left over 100,000 without power, members manned communications, distributed cots and blankets, moved generators, transported people to shelters, assisted in damage assessments and performed welfare checks.
During 1991, 1995 and 1996 floods, members filled sandbags, located victims, provided clothing and essentials. and moved people to shelters. After severe flooding in 1998, seven Washington Wing cadets received medals for wading through deep water to save 43 people, many elderly.
Mudslides in 2008 closed roads, felled power lines, shut down water and power systems and raised rivers, and winter brought heavy snow, rain, floods, landslides, mudslides and avalanches. Members transported evacuees to shelters and fed them, cleaned homes, stacked firewood, sorted donated clothing, hauled equipment and supplies, provided traffic control and manned radios. Aircrews provided photographs and damage assessment.
A massive March 2014 mudslide killed more than 40 people, destroyed homes, dammed a river and blocked State Route 530. Air and ground teams searched for survivors, provided high-bird communications relay, took aerial photos and provided air traffic advisories.