The Virginia National Guard has demobilized the UH-60s providing aerial fire suppression support to the Virginia Department of Forestry and have begun training Soldiers and Airmen for possible ground firefighting support at Fort Barfoot, Virginia.

After Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency in November aviation crews assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division deployed to Madison County with two UH-60 Black Hawks equipped with 660-gallon water buckets. Two helicopters flew missions in Patrick County making a total of 21 drops of nearly 13,900 gallons of water and in Madison County they made 33 drops of nearly 22,800 gallons of water. 

“Our helicopter crews mobilized and deployed in record time to provide additional resources to help the Virginia Department of Forestry in the fight against multiple large wildfires,” said Brig. Gen. Todd H. Hubbard, the VNG Director of the Joint Staff. “Our partner agencies depend on the VNG to rapidly respond with requested capabilities when needed, and we are really proud of how quickly and safely our Soldiers responded.”

Currently approximately 30 VNG Soldiers and Airmen conducted Wildland Firefighter Training with the Virginia Department of Forestry. During the exercise, they received their personal protective equipment, and the training stressed safety and also focused on basic tools, familiarization with bulldozers and engines, fireline construction and proper fire shelter use. Once their training is complete, the troops will deploy where needed by DOF for ground support.