Off-duty soldier helps complete mission
By JESSICA ONSUREZ | Carlsbad (N.M.) Current-Argus | Published: January 9, 2016
Mathews, a refueler at Chandler Aviation, decided to brave the weather and roads to lend a hand to the New Mexico National Guard medical evacuation crew sent to Eddy County to help in search and rescue missions.
"We got a call the other day saying that medevac had landed at Chandler and they needed help, and I called around if anyone else was able to make it and nobody else could," Mathews said. "So, I took off to work."
Mathews is himself a Private First Class with the 717th Headquarters and Headquarters Company, although he hadn't been placed on active duty when Gov. Susana Martinez activated the National Guard following the severe storm that hit most of the state.
The four-man crew that arrived at the Cavern City Air Terminal with a Black Hawk helicopter from the 1st Battalion of the 171st Aviation Regiment spent about four days in the county awaiting missions, Mathews said.
"We brought them food, talked a lot, they gave me some tips and what-not if I ever wanted to go into aviation. We gave them a place to put their sensitive equipment and a place to get in out of the cold," Mathews said.
While Mathews said that his role over those few days with the National Guard crew wasn't too exciting, the National Guard called him a "," one of many citizen soldiers who aided in the response to the blizzard.
The airport had been closed since the beginning of the storm, with snow and ice making runways unusable.
"Helicopters were pretty much all that could land there," Mathews said. And while he didn't get a chance to go up in the Black Hawk, Mathews said he did a get a view of the storm's damage from above when he went up with a civilian pilot.
Mathews is the son of Chris Matthews and Elizabeth Mathews of Carlsbad.
Chris Mathews said he's a proud father and that his son volunteering his time to go is just something the young man of good character decided he had to do.
Jessica Onsurez can be reached at 575-628-5530.
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