College Station, Texas - Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 rescued 14 people and four dogs, yesterday, at Pine Forrest Elementary School, in Vidor, Texas, a shelter that required evacuation after flood waters from Hurricane Harvey reached its grounds.
Seven adults, seven children and four dogs were escorted to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter and flown to safety in nearby Beaumont.
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Rion Johnson, a native of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, logged the first rescue of his five-year career.
"You never want anything bad to happen to anyone. But, if something does you want to be the first person to get there," Johnson said. "So getting the call today and seeing the emotions coming from the survivors it was sad - knowing something terrible happened - but it is also great knowing that they're safe now."
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jansen Schamp, a native of Denver, Colorado, the helicopter's other crewmember, also logged his first rescue of his near six-year career.
"It was a very surreal experience. Landing on the field of an elementary school in a relatively tight landing zone, rescuing people of all ages and even animals wasn't necessarily what I pictured for my first rescue," Schamp said. "It was very humbling and rewarding in every way. The people we evacuated had lost their homes, they were scared, and they were sad. But most of all they were so grateful for the help they received. This will forever be one of my most memorable experiences."
Johnson and Schamp are both aviation rescue swimmers who have trained for years on a variety of scenarios. They credit their efficiency to their extensive training.
"We have weekly pool, medical and knowledge based training that keeps us prepared at anytime, anywhere," Johnson said.
"So others may live" is the motto of the aviation rescue swimmers, and while these two may have achieved that goal today, they are quick to point out the unsung heroes in their squadron.
"There's not enough that can be said about the work of our maintainers that work around the clock to ensure we have aircraft available to perform these missions," Schamp said.
U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) sent personnel and assets to bolster Northern Command's support of FEMA's assistance to federal, state and local authorities ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region.