COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Sailors from Norfolk-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 rescued 14 people and four dogs on Thursday from an elementary school in Vidor, Texas.
The school was serving as a shelter but required evacuation after floodwaters reached its grounds.
The rescued group included seven adults and seven children. They were all escorted to one of the squadron's MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters and flown to safety in nearby Beaumont.
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Rion Johnson, a native of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, logged the first rescue of his five-year career.
"You never want anything bad to happen to anyone. But, if something does you want to be the first person to get there," Johnson said. "So getting the call today and seeing the emotions coming from the survivors it was sad - knowing something terrible happened - but it is also great knowing that they're safe now."
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Jansen Schamp, a native of Denver, Colorado, the helicopter's other crewmember, also logged his first rescue of his near six-year career.
"It was a very surreal experience. Landing on the field of an elementary school in a relatively tight landing zone, rescuing people of all ages and even animals wasn't necessarily what I pictured for my first rescue," Schamp said. "It was very humbling and rewarding in every way. The people we evacuated had lost their homes, they were scared, and they were sad. But most of all they were so grateful for the help they received. This will forever be one of my most memorable experiences."
Crews from HSC 28 headed to Texas earlier in the week to aid in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. They're among multiple squadrons from Norfolk who responded.