In a joint operation between the Fort Hood Fire Department, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and the National Guard’s 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, ground and air crews worked ceaselessly to douse the wildfires raging on Fort Hood Aug. 18-20.

“We, in conjunction with the Fort Hood Fire Department, assist in containment,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeremy Cruz, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cav. Bde., 1st Cav. Division, said about the aviation support. “In reality, the fire department does most of the containment, but we get to areas inaccessible by ground or might be unsafe.”

As the unit’s flight operations officer, Cruz is responsible for coordinating the flights and oversees all the aspects of flight operation. Once he receives the request for Bambi Bucket support, he assigns air crews and they must be ready and airborne within two hours of notification.

“When they initially called us, we were excited,” Spc. Erick Barnachia, a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief with Company B said. “‘We’re gonna put out fires!’ But when you’re actually over those massive fires and feeling the heat through the aircraft – you feel the heat of the fire, you’re in smoke, you’re coughing and you still have to perform at 120% – those flights aren’t easy.”

Read more on this story at the Fort Hood Sentinel