The National Guard And Katrina: Exhibit To Open

JACKSON BARRACKS, LA (AP) — The Louisiana National Guard is highlighting the military's contributions during the catastrophic days of Hurricane Katrina with an exhibit that contains a search-and-rescue UH-1 helicopter, soldiers' personal artifacts and a tattered U.S. flag that made it through the storm on a flagpole in front of City Hall in New Orleans.

         The exhibit is called "Hurricane Katrina — Reflections of First Response" and opens to the public Wednesday.

         It tells the story of the Louisiana National Guard's work and that of Guardsmen from 48 states and territories during Katrina and its aftermath.

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         The Katrina exhibit will stay open through August 2017 inside the museum in Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, the headquarters of the state's National Guard, according to the Times-Picayune/’s Paul Purpura.

         About 50,000 National Guardsmen flowed into the Gulf Coast region following Katrina, with 32,000 of them into Louisiana. The 10th anniversary of Katrina falls this August on the 29th.

         "It's the largest domestic emergency activation in U.S. history," said Rhett Breerwood, the state historian for the Louisiana National Guard.

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         At the center of that response was the Louisiana National Guard, then a 12,000-member force whose soldiers and airmen suffered personal losses like thousands of area residents they helped, said Capt. Heather Englehart, the museum director.

         Jackson Barracks was where about 400 soldiers and airmen rode out Katrina. They were stranded in their buildings and had to be rescued.

         They were flown by National Guard copter crews to the Louisiana Superdome, where the soldiers expanded the heliport at the Superdome, called it "Eagle Base" and made it a hub for search-and-rescue operations.

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         Prominently featured in the exhibit is a UH-1 Huey helicopter soldiers used in the days after Katrina to rescue stranded residents. The chopper is a relic of the 812th Medical Company.

         On one of those missions, the pilots hovered over to a rooftop. The roof partially collapsed, trapping the copter's skids and stranding the aircrew. A CH-47 Chinnook was summoned to extract the Huey.

         Artifacts include a tattered U.S. flag that remained on a pole through Katrina in Duncan Plaza at New Orleans' City Hall. Guardsmen later retrieved it.

         The exhibit also features storyboards with a chronology of events from the storm as it happened and the search and rescue response by air, ground and water.

         Englehart said the museum has a long-term plan to create a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Katrina response.

         The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

         For more information




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