NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- It was some of hardest flying they'd ever done, but also, the most rewarding.
"No one ever wants to hear about people being put out of their homes. Nobody wants to be able to hear that," said LT. Thomas Smith, a pilot for Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7, based at Naval Station Norfolk. "But to be able to help people out, it's just awesome."
And help out they did, in a big way.
The pilots, air crewmen, rescue swimmers and maintainers of HSC-7 and HSC-28 flew night and day in the skies over Texas, finding and transporting hurricane victims to safety.
It's something they say they'll never forget.
"It was a very humbling experience, going down there and being able to help people that really couldn't help themselves," said LT Steve Neito, a pilot for HSC-28.
Fellow HSC-28 pilot, LT Bond Robinson agreed. "We knew what was on the line," he said. "It was the people of Texas, fellow Americans that needed our help."
HSC-28 Rescue Swimmer AWS2 Tyler Skinner said it was a great experience. "It was unbelievable," he said. "You can't really put into words. You just got to do it, you know."
AWS2 Connor Murray, also a rescue swimmer for HSC-28, was happy to help. "And to be able to work with some of the best pilots and air crewmen in any branch of the military is awesome, and the people of Texas, they really appreciated it. So very humbling," he said.
Between the squadrons, they rescued 357 people. And now, they are home. But for how long, nobody knows.
With Hurricane Irma now threatening the East Coast and Jose right behind it, it's not beyond the realm of possibility to think they could be re-tasked.
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