KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Florida's east coast, crews from Patrick Air Force Base have relocated several aircraft to Keesler.
Twenty crew members and six aircraft from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Satellite Beach, Fla. are now preparing for action in South Mississippi.
The 920th is a para-rescue group that specializes in rescuing pilots and military members behind enemy lines. But, they also provide assistance to civilians in treacherous situations.
"We provide rescue assets in any given environment, whether it be a technical rescue, a confined space, water...we could jump into a remote area," said Air Force Para-rescueman Lucas Vannorsdall.
Vannorsdall is a member of one of two 10-man crews awaiting word they may be needed after Hurricane Matthew passes Florida, and the Carolinas.
The last time the 920th was in South Mississippi was following Hurricane Katrina. Colonel Kurt Matthews, Commander of the 920th Operations group, was on one of the crews working to rescues victims of that historic storm.
"We had just redeployed home from Afghanistan and within a couple weeks, hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Within the next day, we were here with five helicopters and two of the HC 130 aircraft behind me, and rescued over 1,000 people," Matthews said.
Col. Kurt Matthews now says his job is preparing these teams to do the same should the need arise in Florida. The 920th will remain on standby, along with crews out of Tuscon, AZ.