Montana National Guard Soldiers Return Home after supporting WA - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana National Guard Soldiers Return Home after supporting WA wildfire efforts

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HELENA - The well known American song, "This land is you land, this land is my land" reigned true this past week when the Montana National Guard Bravo company the first of the 189th GSAB came to help Washington State fight those wildfires. And today, they come home.

"I guarantee that if Montana needs us to come back some time and help you guys, we're going to be there for you--and that's what's it's all about being a guardsmen," WA National Guard Major General Brett Daughtery.

Montana soldiers dropped more than 520,000 gallons of water during their 12 days working out of the base near Leavenworth. That's over 260 buckets of water used to try and tame the unforgiving fires.

"We've seen everything from just small poofs of smoke, where they were doing back burns on the ground to--we call them torches-- they'll be clusters of trees that will be in flames, and you can have flames that are reaching probably heights of 30 feet above the tree tops," Flight engineer SGT. Brad Fredrickson said.

To some, helping a neighboring state was a no brainer.

"It's really nice to be able to help out," Instructor pilot Jake Wiegand said. "If you're at home you'd be helping out your buddies. So, you might as well help out the Washington state guys right next door to us."

But for Fredrickson, fighting the wildfires meant supporting his home state.

"It's an honor really" Fredrickson said. "I was born in Spokane, so being from here is something nice to be able to do--knowing that we can actually help out not just our state but other states."

The Washington National Guard expressed their gratitude by awarding all 17 Montana soldiers with certificates of appreciation.

"It's nice to know that someone appreciates what you're doing here" Wiegand said. "It's been a humbling experience, and its been really good."

Crews operating out of the From Field Hella base have been able to tackle three different complex fires, but they say that the job isn't quite done yet.


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