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Peoria-based helicopter and crew sent to California to fight wildfires

A CH-47 Chinook from the Illinois National Guard's Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard, sits on the ramp in Peoria, Ill., on Sept. 13, 2018.

TODD A. PENDLETON/U.S. AIR FORCE

By ANDY KRAVETZ | Journal Star, Peoria, Ill. | Published: August 29, 2020

PEORIA, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — Six members of a Peoria-based Illinois Army National Guard unit and their helicopter will leave this weekend for California to help fight wildfires there.

The guard members, part of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th General Aviation Regiment, are to leave Saturday. Their assistance was requested by the state of California as part of a mutual aid program between all fifty states.

The soldiers, two pilots, two crew members and two maintenance operators, will be gone for two weeks, the Guard bureau said.

California has had more than 13,000 lightning strikes since Aug. 15, sparking more than 600 wildfires statewide.

Company B has frequently deployed to help with natural disasters and with the ongoing wars on terror. Its last wartime deployment was in 2017 when the unit went to Afghanistan.

And in 2018, one helicopter was sent to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Florence.

It's not uncommon for Peoria to send Chinooks to help with storm relief. The 238th has deployed other times to help with flooding and storm relief in the past. The tandem-rotor Chinook can fly up to 175 mph, carry about 21,000 pounds of cargo and as many as 30 troops. Known as the "River City Hookers," the 238th can "hook," or lift and transport, things including supplies, vehicles and weapons.

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