Coronado-based Navy helicopters return from helping Harvey victims

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CORONADO, Calif. -- Two U.S. Navy helicopter squadrons returned home to Naval Base Coronado Wednesday after providing relief to victims affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“We got food and water to the people that wouldn’t have had it if we weren’t able to be there,” said Lt. Pat Norwood, HSC 23 Detachment.

The 89 members of Helicopter Sea Combat squadrons 21 and 23 were activated Monday to help with disaster relief efforts. Four Seahawk helicopters with 11 crews were sent to help in the Beaumont area.

“It was pretty horrifying,” said Lt. Norwood.

“A lot of communities completely flooded. All you could really see were rooftops and cars floating around,” said Lt. Kevin Holland, HSC-21 Detachment.

The squadron known as the Blackjacks flew nearly 68 hours on 15 flights, providing 40,000 pounds of food and water to flood victims.

“A lot of flooding on the interstates, too, which cut a lot of communities off for supplies,” said Lt. Holland.“It was pretty daunting to see places I knew well under water still.”

“It was pretty daunting to see places I knew well under water still.”

For Lt. Norwood, the devastation really hit home since he’s from Houston.

“I was really happy to see I was one of the people called and I wasn’t just sitting at home watching it all happen so I had something to do to help,” said Lt. Norwood.

“It was really difficult to see,” said Lt. Junior Grade Taryn Voller, HSC 21 Detachment.

Lt. Voller just joined the Blackjacks. It was her first relief mission.

“I’m still very new. It was a first for me. I was very lucky to be able to go out there and provide assistance,” said Lt. Voller.

Hurricane Harvey wreaked devastation of historic proportions. The brave men and women of the Blackjacks said it was a true honor to help and serve.

“Just to help actual American citizens out was one of the bigger honors of my life so very happy to do it,” said Lt. Norwood.

In total, U.S. Navy Helicopters crews rescued 357 victims, 20 dogs, and five cats. Crews transferred 44 passengers and 125,810 pounds of cargo in support of Harvey relief efforts.