Ashli Sims, News On 6
UNDATED - When disaster strikes on Sooner soil, our first line of defense is often the Oklahoma National Guard. While they remain on guard, our force is thinner than usual.
More than 3,000 members of the 45th infantry brigade have been called to serve in Afghanistan once again. It's the largest deployment since the Korean War and thousands are training in Mississippi to be ready for that mission.
But guard leaders say the state has not been left unprotected. There are still more than 7,000 Army and Air National Guardsmen and women ready to serve.
In fact, a team of soldiers were sent to Piedmont to help with the search for three-year-old Ryan Hamil. They scoured the devastation from the sky, combed through the high grass and the waters around Lake Falcon to help give the Hamil family some answers.
"This was a tremendous effort by a lot of different agencies. I know I'm going to miss a couple of them. The national guard was a tremendous help," OHP Captain Chris West said.
"This truly was a joint unified effort of a lot of people coming together, dedicated professionals, in a tragic situation to reunite this family," West added.
A spokesperson for the Oklahoma National Guard says we're well equipped to handle the state's needs. But if there was a catastrophic disaster that required more guard members than are currently in the state, the federal government would coordinate with other guards in the region to get Oklahoma the help it needs.
Just like what happened in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina swamped the Louisiana National Guard, Oklahoma soldiers packed up and headed out to lend a hand.
Another 500 army National Guard members were called up last week. They'll be heading to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. In all, more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen and women have been deployed to Irag and Afghanistan in the last ten years.