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Fort Drum aviation soldiers move to New Jersey to aid in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

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Soldiers from Fort Drum have moved down to New Jersey as they continue to help relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

After first working out of Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., soldiers from the post’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade have been stationed since Saturday at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, about 20 miles from Trenton.

The brigade’s 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Phoenix, has been operating from the installation alongside air units from both the Navy and the Marines.

Since their arrival, soldiers have been involved with missions to take emergency officials from both the military and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess conditions on the ground around the Jersey Shore, Long Island and New York City area. The brigade sent eight helicopters, four for Medevac purposes and another four for general support, and about 100 soldiers to take part in relief work.

Lt. Col. Anthony A. Meador, the task force’s commander, described the damage as “very significant.” Among the damage he’s seen from the air have been large pileups of washed-up boats, in some places three boats high, and massive damage to entire residential neighborhoods.

“They’re washed away,” Col. Meador said.

He said he was impressed by the eagerness of his soldiers to be involved in the relief work, only weeks after a grueling stop at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“Normally you’re tired coming back from an NTC event,” Col. Meador said. “The energy in them immediately turned on.”

The brigade in 1992 was involved in the relief efforts following Hurricane Andrew in southern Florida. Col. Meador said the opportunity to provide assistance during another natural disaster was “definitely a good feeling.”

Col. Meador said he did not have a timetable for how long soldiers from the brigade would remain in the disaster areas, offering only that they were “not going to leave until the mission is done.”

A post spokesman said Monday afternoon that a couple of hundred soldiers overall were involved in relief efforts across the damaged areas along the Northeast, but said more details about where soldiers were being dispatched would not be released until this morning.

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