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Altus supports California firefighting

Members of the 97th Operations Support Squadron and the 58th Airlift Squadron load Soldiers and an Army emergency response vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 24 at San Antonio. The emergency response vehicle is being airlifted to California to help support personnel battle the wildfires. Members of the 97th OSS and the 58th AS, as well as the C-17 are from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Army Soldiers and equipment are from U.S. Army North based at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

Airmen load Soldiers and an Army emergency response vehicle onto a 97th Air Mobility Wing C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 24 in San Antonio. The emergency response vehicle was airlifted to California to support personnel battling the wildfires there. The Airmen are from the 97th Operations Support Squadron and the 58th Airlift Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Army Soldiers and equipment are from U.S. Army North based at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

Army Soldiers prepare for the flight to California as Airmen with the 97th Operations Support Squadron and the 58th Airlift Squadron make final preparations after loading an Army emergency response vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 24 in San Antonio. The Soldiers and emergency response vehicle are being airlifted to California to help support personnel battling the wildfires. Members of the 97th OSS and the 58th AS, as well as the C-17 are from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Army Soldiers and equipment are from U.S. Army North based at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

Army Soldiers prepare for the flight to California as Airmen with the 97th Operations Support Squadron and the 58th Airlift Squadron make final preparations after loading an Army emergency response vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III Oct. 24 in San Antonio. The Soldiers and emergency response vehicle were airlifted to California to help support the personnel battling the wildfires. The C-17 and Airmen are from Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The Army Soldiers and equipment are from U.S. Army North based at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A C-17 Globemaster III from the 97th Air Mobility Wing here mobilized yesterday to airlift firefighting equipment and personnel to California in support of ongoing efforts to control the wildfires there.

"We flew to San Antonio to pick up Maj. Gen. Thomas Matthews, commander of Operations Command Post 2 with U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston, Texas," said Col. Keith Tobin, 97th Operations Group commander and command pilot on the flight. 

General Matthews is leading a command assessment team with emergency response vehicles and equipment. The 15-person team of civilian, active duty and reserve members is part of a command and control structure for the firefighting relief effort. 

Colonel Tobin was able to describe his 'bird's eye view' of the devastating fire as he piloted the Globemaster to its landing.

"Coming into (Los Angeles International Airport) I could clearly see the fire line to the south toward San Diego," the colonel said.  "To the north, the whole skyline was blotted out by rippled layers of smoke. I couldn't see the actual flames, but the extent of the fire line was obvious."

Air Force active duty and reserve units are providing airlift of teams and equipment into central California and other incident command post locations.

The Air Force team returned to Altus late yesterday evening after completing the mission.
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