UDSLIDES ARE COMMON IN
northwest Washington state, but this
kind of devastation had the power to
steal Maj. Khoi breath.
As he would later describe the scene to a colleague, it
was as if God had scooped up all of the dirt from a big,
black hole and scattered it in a 1-square-mile area.
That was the magnitude of the damage from the massive March 22 mudslide that swiftly gobbled up homes
and people, resulting in a pile of rubble and debris that
dammed the north fork of the Stillaguamish River and
blocked State Route 530.
Duong was on his way to an aerial photography course
the morning he got the call to grab his flight gear.
seen the previous news of the mudslide between
Oso and Darrington, but even so he was unprepared for
the scope of what he saw from 5,000 feet in the air.
looking down and thinking to myself,
my Duong said. never seen anything like
that before. To see the slide from that vantage point was
The Washington Wing was mobilized by the Washington State Department of Transportation through the
Air Force Rescue Coordination Center just hours after
the disaster, which claimed more than 40 lives. Wing
members like Duong, who served as a mission scanner
during the first full search day, provided support to first
responders on the ground and in the air during the earliest days of the search for survivors. Civil Air cellular forensics team also was tapped to help find people.
For two days, CAP members provided High-Bird
communications relay for air and ground rescue teams
working in the slide area, said Lt. Col. John Reno, director of emergency services for the Washington Wing.
just a bunch of dirt piled up somewhere, it was dirt
piled up over the tops of people and not by a couple of
inches, but by tens of Lt. Col. Patrick Courtney
20 Civil Air Patrol Volunteer