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Marines Deploy Transport Helicopters to Hilo

May 24, 2018, 10:40 AM HST
* Updated May 24, 5:20 PM
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By Sgt. Seth Starr – DVIDS.net, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60722479

The U.S. Marine Corps on May 24, 2018, has deployed two large transport helicopters to Hilo in support of Joint Task Force 5-0, the joint military force assisting Hawai‘i County with the current Kīlauea eruption.

The helicopters will provide 24/7 coverage in the event that a quick evacuation of residents in lower Puna is required. The two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and their respective air crews from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463) are a welcome addition to JTF-50’s Aviation Task Force.

Major Jeff Hickman from the Hawai‘i National Guard talks to the media on May 24, 2018.

Each CH-53E can carry more than 50 passengers at a time.

“The additional helicopter support from USPACOM and MARFORPAC provides the County of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i’s Joint Task Force-50 tremendous capability,” said JTF 5-0 commander, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara. “We now have the capacity to evacuate all of the estimated population of lower Puna south of the lava flow within a few hours.”

The Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i-based Super Stallions, with an internal lifting capability of 30,000 pounds, are uniquely qualified for this heavy lift mission.

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