National Guard Helicopter Aids Muskogee County Rancher

Wednesday, May 27th 2015, 11:12 pm
By: News On 6

The recent flooding is not only impacting crops, but livestock, too, stranding more than 100 head of cattle in a Muskogee County pasture.

When Robert Vinson knew he needed help he called the local fire department.

He thought he needed a boat but instead got a Chinook helicopter.

"Some years water never gets out, this time it's been several times this month," Vinson said.

Wednesday the National Guard stepped in to help Vinson as the Chinook helicopter landed near his Muskogee County property.

The aircraft has been through Vietnam and can carry up to 26,000 pounds of cargo, but for this much different mission, the Guard loaded hay bale after hay bale to drop to more than 100 head of cattle stranded in a flooded pasture.

"Economically, to a rancher, losing cows is disastrous in itself. That's their livelihood and what they count on," said Jeff Smith with Muskogee County Emergency Management.

Vinson said without the help, many of his animals could've died.

"I don't want to say I don't want rain, ‘cause we've had bad drought, but I just want some pretty weather and everyone's crops will grow and cows will be alright," he said.

That's all the Oklahoma National Guard members want as well.

They can cover hurricanes and wildfires, but helping out people like Vinson is one of their favorite things to do, according to National Guard Pilot, Michael McGill.

"This is by far my favorite mission because it's here helping people in our own state, and getting to see we're making a difference for somebody. So for us, that is what is rewarding," he said.

All the help came together with just a few phone calls.

"It is immense to start something and see it through and to see how effective government can be when people give us a hard time. It's really effective at the state and local levels," Smith said.

Vinson said, "I appreciate everyone's help and all the neighbors and people in Oklahoma pull together."

He hopes that, if the weather cooperates, all the hay will last the cattle about a week.