Hammond-based Guard unit one of the best
HAMMOND - Flags flew at half staff Wednesday evening in honor of four National Guardsmen stationed here and seven Marines from the Carolinas who are presumed dead after their Hammond-based Black Hawk crashed off the coast of Florida during a training mission.
The helicopter crew was part of an elite team from the facility in Tangipahoa Parish set up at the regional airport on Highway 190. Members of the 1-244th have responded to local, regional and international disasters from hurricanes like Katrina and Rita to the BP oil spill and the Mississippi River flood event to war zones.
"They were integral in the after effects of Katrina and they saved thousands of live," Louisiana Adjutant General Glenn Curtis said during a news conference about the crash Wednesday. "They are a great unit. They have a great history and they are tremendous pilots and tremendous soldiers," he said.
The unit was involved in the capture and transportation of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, WWL TV reported. WWL TV and WBRZ have a partnership agreement.
The group is described as being one of the best.
"This was a special operations training of some type. What's happened with the threats in the world now with all these terrorists, we need a whole lot more of these special operations forces," retired Marine Major General David Mize told the station.
"To lose people that are making that type of sacrifice to our community, in the prime of their life is just so sad and so tragic," he said.
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