Story and photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
BOULDER — Five months after the Colorado floods, awards were presented Feb. 13 to many of the Boulder agencies involved in rescue and recovery operations.
2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, closed the book on the floods and said thank you to its counterparts as unit leaders presented the awards.
“It was a great opportunity to give awards to the emergency agencies that helped make our jobs easier during the floods,” said Maj. Eric Carleson, executive officer, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg. “There was a lot of teamwork involved in the rescue efforts, and we moved out so rapidly that we didn’t get to properly thank all the emergency agencies involved. We felt we left loose ends by not being able to thank those who helped make our mission successful. The awards allowed us to bring it back full circle.”
In September, 4th CAB aviation crews rescued 1,028 people and 338 pets from massive flooding over a four-day span, in support of the Colorado Army National Guard.
Timothy Head, Boulder Municipal Airport manager, appreciated receiving the award from the Fort Carson aviation unit, but felt the ‘thanks’ should go the other way.
“After receiving the award, my first instinct was hold it, we should be thanking 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg.,” said Head. “This was a big surprise. It was nice to get recognized for some of the things we did to help out. But in the end, the whole community of Boulder is thankful for all the rescues and the aviation capabilities provided by 4th CAB.”
“About three days into the floods, I got a call (at) about 2 a.m.,” he said. “Later that morning, many were surprised to see the damage that was caused. The Colorado Army National Guard was first to be activated and then (were joined by) 4th CAB from Fort Carson. We had up to 12 helicopters here within 24 hours from both (the guard) and 4th CAB.”
4th CAB and other emergency agencies took on a wide area of operation due to one of the emergency points being flooded, but they managed to accomplish their tasks without extra help, said Head.
“Boulder Municipal Airport became the main operations hub of search and rescue traffic for the whole county,” said Head.
“The fire training center was flooded and could not be used as the other emergency site. They all came into the situation well-trained and had everything they needed to get the job done,” he said. This made it much easier to accommodate all the agencies because they were very self-sufficient.”
David Zader, Wildland Fire administrator, city of Boulder Wildland Division, said after the guard showed up, the most important thing they needed was more aviation assets to hit flood areas quicker and more effectively.
“We needed to quickly find out how many people were stuck out there, how many needed to be evacuated, and how many were in peril,” said Zader.
“We knew that there were people that were homeless and out in the cold. 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., helped us continue our mission through the night and on through the evenings. The arriving of the CAB helped us shift some (of the guard) assets up to Larimer County which also had flooding,” he said.
Wildland Fire Division officials were also grateful to receive the award and look forward to continuing to work with 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg. in the future.
“It was great to receive the award,” said Zader. “We wish we could work with them every day. It’s great to build such an outstanding partnership with the Fort Carson, (Colorado Army National Guard), police and fire departments.
“This partnership creates a great national model showing that we are all citizens in Colorado and we should all work together to achieve a common goal,” he said.