Coast Guard Lt. Ronaqua Russell flies an Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 in support of Hurricane Maria response efforts in October 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard/Lt.Cmdr. Ryan P Kelley)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

When Hurricane Harvey slammed into southeast Texas with Category 4 intensity in late August 2017, causing devastating flooding and damage, many in the Houston metropolitan area struggled to find a way out of town. But with airports closed and flights grounded, Coast Guard Lt. Ronaqua Russell and her counterparts out of Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi were on the way in.

Russell, 28, was one of eight Coast Guard pilots to be awarded the prestigious Coast Guard Air Medal for operations in the wake of the deadly hurricane. And the award, presented Feb. 21 in Tuskegee, Alabama, made history: she is the first African-American woman in the service to ever receive the Air Medal. But despite what she calls the "surreal experience" of receiving the award, her focus is still on the mission ahead and her love of the job.

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Two days ago, as Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane crisis fought for news headlines with sports protests and Beltway drama, a titter went through veterans’ communities online: Who were those big, aw-shucks-looking ex-military operators giving heart-rending updates on the ground situation in Puerto Rico?

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(U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher Parr)

The historic rainfall and devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey are still wreaking havoc on residents of Texas, but not in the way you’d expect. Residual standing water has turned communities across the Gulf Coast into swampy cesspools of liquid waste, perfect for breeding mosquitoes.

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Photo via DoD

The Department of Defense vastly overstated the number of active-duty military personnel deployed to Texas and Louisiana in response to the catastrophic rain and flooding of Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon told CNN in a statement on Sept. 1, with just a quarter of initial estimates actually sent to the Gulf Coast as part of relief efforts.

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Photo via Michael Keyes/Twitter

There are currently around 30,000 National Guard service-members working their asses off to assist in search and rescue and relief efforts across Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of the unprecedented flooding wrought by Hurricane Harvey. And though the Guard, bolstered by some 6,000 active-duty troops and an armada of "Cajun Navy" civilian and veteran volunteers, perform dutifully and honorably as the federal government's first line of defense against natural disasters, sometimes even guardsmen need a helping hand from the very folks they've been sent to rescue.

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Photo via DoD

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — When he fired up the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter on the morning of Aug. 30, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Pat Dunn thought it was going to be an easier day over the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey.

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