Coast Guard teams support North Dakota flooding

  • Published
  • By Derek Kaufman
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Boats and Coast Guardsmen are rarely seen on this sprawling flight line, but both were here Friday, March 27, when a Disaster Assistance Response Team arrived and prepared to be flown to flood ravaged Fargo, N.D. where the swollen Red River is threatening to breach sandbag levies. 

The eight-member team from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Cincinnati met a C-130J Hercules flown in from Elizabeth City, N.C. and prepared to load three flat-bottomed rescue boats, a vehicle and associated equipment aboard the aircraft. 

"We're deploying to Fargo, North Dakota to assist with the evacuation and do whatever we can to help out. Our mission is to save lives," said Chief Petty Officer Darrin Cliffe, a senior DART team member with the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. 

Cliffe's team of Coast Guardsmen will join others from Louisville, Huntington, W.V., St. Paul, Minn., and St. Louis, Mo. who are specially trained to conduct marine rescue and evacuations. He said while everyone hopes most of the sandbag levies will successfully hold back the freezing flood waters, the teams will be in-place and ready, when needed. 

"The mission is always the same, but the terrain may be a little different," Cliffe added. 

The Cincinnati DART deployed to Quincy, Ill. during major flooding in there in last June, and to Findlay, Ohio in 2007. They supported Gulf Coast rescue operations during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. The unit includes nine active duty members and 25 reservists. 

The Fargo bound rescue team - comprised exclusively of reservists - includes an interesting mix of backgrounds. Cliffe and Petty Officer 2nd class Joel Brown are both Cincinnati firefighters. Lt. j. g. Scott Gondeck from Indianapolis, is a systems analyst for a major pharmaceutical company. Petty Officer 1st class Brian Williams of Columbus, helps school teachers with retirement planning. Petty Officer 3rd class Randy Wagner is a community center director with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. Petty Officer 3rd class Blaine Wilken is an electrician from Indianapolis. Petty Officer 2nd class Luke McCabe of Eaton, Ohio, is a filmmaker specializing in entertainment specials for outdoor sportsmen. Petty Officer 3rd class Adler Dobert, of Moraine, Ohio, trains K-9s for law enforcement duties and provides bomb and drug dogs for hire. 

But when others are in harms way, they each don a blue utility uniform, pack their gear and head straight to the source of trouble to lend a hand and save lives. 

The Hercules carrying the rescue team is a "multi-purpose, Jack-of-all-trades for the Coast Guard," said Lt. Steve Talick, a C-130J aircraft commander from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City. It's equally at home configured for ocean search and rescue, law enforcement, or logistics support missions like this one, he said.