Calling In the Big Dog

The Katrina search-and-rescue aircraft got some help from an E-3 Sentry AWACS and its crew from the 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker AFB, Okla., beginning Sept. 3. The E-3 has taken over quarterback duty for SAR aircraft and relays communications for ground SAR forces, as well. On their first day, after picking up a distress call, the Sentry crew diverted a rescue sortie to aid nurses and retirement home residents trapped in their facility and in need of insulin and food and water. The 552nd plans to cover the relief operations for a month, but one unit official said it may be longer, depending on how long it takes to re-establish basic radio and other communication systems on the ground.