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Altus supports California firefighting

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- A C-17 Globemaster III crew from the 97th Air Mobility Wing here mobilized Oct. 24 to airlift firefighting equipment and personnel to California in support of ongoing efforts to control the wildfires there.

"We flew to San Antonio to pick up (Army) Maj. Gen. Thomas Matthews, commander of Operations Command Post 2 with U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston, Texas," said Col. Keith Tobin, the 97th Operations Group commander and command pilot on the flight.

General Matthews is leading a command assessment team with emergency response vehicles and equipment. The 15-person team of civilian, active duty and Reserve members is part of a command and control structure for the firefighting relief effort.

Colonel Tobin described his "bird's eye view" of the Southern California fires as he piloted the C-17 to its landing.

"Coming into (Los Angeles International Airport) I could clearly see the fire line to the south toward San Diego," the colonel said. "To the north, the whole skyline was blotted out by rippled layers of smoke. I couldn't see the actual flames, but the extent of the fire line was obvious."

Air Force active duty and Reserve units are providing airlift of teams and equipment into central California and other incident command post locations.

The Air Force team returned to Altus Air Force Base late Oct. 24 after completing the mission.

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