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Rochester Army Unit To Fly New Helicopters

Rochester, NY – It's bye-bye Huey for members of the Rochester Army National Guard Aviation unit.

Monday morning, the 249th Medical Air Ambulance Company will fly four UH-1 helicopters out of town for the last time.

These "Hueys" became famous in the Vietnam war, used to airlift the injured soldiers away from battle.

The formerly Rochester-based Hueys will next be stationed out of Temple, Texas. The Army National Guard says the helicopters, all built in the early 1970s, will be replaced by modern UH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopters like those operated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BACKGROUND provided by the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs:

249th Medical Company (Air Ambulance):

The 249th Medical Company has the mission of providing medical evacuation support and rescue for deployed forces. Known as "Dustoffs" since Vietnam, Army medevac pilots are famous for flying into dangers situations whenever needed to rescue wounded soldiers.

The 249th-which also has detachments in the Rhode Island and New Hampshire Army National Guards-was organized at Rochester in 2002 when the Army stopped operating Cobra Attack Helicopters which had previously equipped the aviation unit there. Less than a year after being organized the 249th was mobilized to backfill an Active Army Air Ambulance company which was deployed to Iraq. The unit's helicopters and aviators provided air ambulance support to Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Bragg; Fort Knox, Ky.; and the Ranger camps in Dahlonega, Ga.; and Florida for 18 months.

The unit also supported the Department of Defense's Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST) program in those areas. Under this program military helicopters supplement civilian medevac services when required.

In 2005 the unit responded to Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi as part of the massive relief effort following the storm. In 2006 when flooding hit the Southern Tier of New York the 249th responded. In one instance one of the unit's helicopters employed its hoist to lift stranded civilians from a flooded house in the Binghamton area.

Last year, when Hurricane Gustav threatened the Gulf Coast the 249th deployed to Louisiana to assist in any potential recovery operation.

UH-1V "Huey":

The UH-1V is the medical evacuation US Army conversion of the UH-1H "Huey". A total of 200 UH-1Hs were modified to this medevac configuration in the 1980s. This single-engine helicopter carries no external weapons, but can be equipped with 6 standard litters to carry wounded. Additional medical equipment and one medical attendant could also be carried.

Configured as air ambulances, the UH-1V can transport three litter patients and four ambulatory patients. A crew of four operates each air ambulance: Pilot, Co-Pilot, Crew Chief and an Emergency Medical Technician. The UH-1V normally cruises at a speed of 100 nautical miles per hour. It has a 2-hour fuel range and a required 30-minute fuel reserve. Actual range varies with wind, temperature, altitude, length of operation while on the ground, and fuel consumption rates which vary from one helicopter to another

The Huey gets it's name because the helicopter was originally designated the HU (for Helicopter Utility) 1. Aviators quickly dubbed I the "huey" and when the Army's designation system changed from HU to UH, the nickname stuck.

UH-60 Blackhawk:

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. The UH-60A entered service with the Army in 1979, to replace the UH-1 as the Army's tactical transport helicopter. The Black Hawk helicopter series can perform a wide array of missions, including the tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare, and aeromedical evacuation. It can fly faster and further than the Huey and lift more because it has a more powerful engine. The unit has been flow extensively in combat in Panama, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Configured as a medevac aircraft, the UH-60 can carry six litter patients and a crew of three. In addition to extensive immediate care, the UH-60 medevac can perform all weather terrain battlefield evacuation, combat search and rescue, hospital ship lifeline missions, deep operations support, forward surgical team transport, medical logistics resupply, medical personnel movement, patient regulating, disaster/humanitarian relief, and MAST state support.