This month, members of the South Carolina National Guard are involved in a massive, state-wide disaster response exercise. Dubbed Vigilant Guard, the exercise involves both National Guard as well as civilian emergency services agencies, testing their readiness for combined relief operations in the wake of natural disasters, such as this year’s Category 4 hurricane scenario, or similar catastrophic events.

The South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169FW is a large player in Vigilant Guard, but for some pilots the simulated scenario turned real over the weekend. In a separate and unfortunate event unrelated to the exercise, some Swamp Fox F-16s enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon fight in the Warning Areas off the Carolina coast were re-tasked with locating a small 25-foot boat that capsized near the Ocean Isle Beach area of North Carolina.

While the F-16s located the stricken vessel, the US Coast Guard launched a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk search-and-rescue helicopter from their Air Station in Elizabeth City. Fortunately, the “search” container was already checked, courtesy of the Swamp Fox Viper drivers. The result was exactly what you hope for: two boaters back on dry land and in good condition.

The USCG rescues two boaters after their vessel capsized off the North Carolina coast
The USCG rescues two boaters after their vessel capsized off the North Carolina coast

A job well done by the 169FW and the Coast Guard, demonstrating the effectiveness of agency interoperability in a time of grave need. Caveo Volpe!

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