National Guard October 2012 : Page 42
STATE ROUNDUP Déjà vu Almost exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina struck the region, Guardsmen across the Gulf Coast respond to another major storm HEN IT BECAME certain that the Hurricane Isaac was head-ing into the Gulf of Mexico the last week of August, the ﬁrst concern was the Republican National Conven-tion in Tampa. The stormed veered west, largely sparing the convention. But the path now was even more ominous. Almost exactly seven years to the day Katrina slammed into Louisiana and Mississip-pi, this hurricane would do the same. Isaac lacked Katrina’s full punch, but the storm still wreaked havoc. Hundreds of thousands of residents were without power and access to ba-sic services as the storm struck Aug. 28, just one day before the anniversary of Katrina. And much like seven years ago, the W 42 | Na tional Guard
Déjà vu<br /> <br /> Almost exactly seven years after W Hurricane Katrina struck the region, Guardsmen across the Gulf Coast respond to another major storm<br /> <br /> WHEN IT BECAME certain that the Hurricane Isaac was heading into the Gulf of Mexico the last week of August, the first concern was the Republican National Convention in Tampa.<br /> <br /> The stormed veered west, largely sparing the convention. But the path now was even more ominous. Almost exactly seven years to the day Katrina slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi, this hurricane would do the same.<br /> <br /> Isaac lacked Katrina's full punch, but the storm still wreaked havoc. Hundreds of thousands of residents were without power and access to basic services as the storm struck Aug. 28, just one day before the anniversary of Katrina.<br /> <br /> And much like seven years ago, the National Guard was there, working to help those residents recover and get back to their daily lives.<br /> <br /> Governors in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency days before the storm even made landfall, and Guard forces started their preparations. By the time the storm hit-mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi-the Guard was already on the ground.<br /> <br /> On Aug. 28, Guardsmen from the Mississippi Army Guard's 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) arrived to prepare to serve as a search-and-rescue unit in Hancock County. The next day, after Isaac's landfall, they were patrolling the county in their Zodiac inflatable boats.<br /> <br /> Boat teams worked with local officials to find residents in need of rescue. Sometimes, they would spot people standing at the edge of a flooded road who told them a neighbor needed help, said Chief Warrant Officer Patrick A. Cheney, a boat team leader with the 2nd Battalion.<br /> <br /> After finding residents in need of evacuation, the teams helped them into their boats along with their luggage and pets. The soldiers then transported them to supporting teams waiting with high mobility vehicles to carry them out of the flood zones.<br /> <br /> "There is a lot of support and coordination that is involved before you ever get the boats in," said Cheney. "Things have been working like they are supposed to. We train for this with readiness exercises with the whole unit and support personnel."<br /> <br /> Near Carville, La., Louisiana Army Guardsmen were a welcome sight to residents of St. John the Baptist Parish, which was flooded after the hurricane made landfall.<br /> <br /> "We've been working for about 15 hours straight rescuing citizens of this parish and their pets," said Sgt. Lee Savoy, a cook and supply sergeant for Detachment 1, 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.<br /> <br /> Savoy and other members of the 256th were continuing with searchand- rescue operations in the parish using high-water military vehicles and other resources. The unit took hundreds of residents to safety.<br /> <br /> The response effort continued well after landfall. Members of the Mississippi Guard helped the American Red Cross distribute thousands of meals to residents.<br /> <br /> Louisiana bore the brunt of the storm and experienced the largest Guard response. The state mobilized more than 6,700 Guardsmen, who rescued more than 5,000 people, cleared nearly 50 miles of road debris, repaired levees, and supported more than 35 food, water and ice distribution points, according to Guard figures.<br /> <br /> Louisiana Guard soldiers and airmen- sometimes working together- also delivered critical supplies and equipment the areas cut off by the flooding.<br /> <br /> More than a week after the storm, many Guardsmen were still on duty, including some from the 159th Fighter Wing from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Belle Chasse, La.<br /> <br /> Members of the 159th were helping rebuild the small fishing town of Port Sulphur, La., a community devastated by the hurricane. They helped deliver much-needed fuel Sept. 5 to the town's water treatment plant and supply residents with food, water, ice and tarps.<br /> <br /> Members of the 159th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron drove 300 gallons of fuel to Point Sulphur. Once there, an Army Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew sling-loaded the fuel and placed it on top of a water treatment facility to power a generator that the Army Guard had flown in the day before.<br /> <br /> "It was really cool to see this in person," said Senior Airman Leah Crow, who helped deliver the fuel. "This has probably been the highlight of hurricane response for me because we are helping people in a devastated area get clean drinking water." -Compiled from National Guard releases<br /> <br /> Kansas<br /> <br /> Guard Helps Train Armenians On Global Demining Standards<br /> <br /> Four Kansas Army National Guard soldiers and an expert from the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Training Center taught international Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) standards to engineers with the Armenian Peacekeeping Brigade in Yerevan, Armenia, last month.<br /> <br /> "Armenia at this point does not really have a national set of standard operating procedures for demining, we give them our training and as a result the idea is that they take the concepts to help develop their own national training programs," said Martin Dumond, the on-site training instructor from the HDCT in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.<br /> <br /> Dumond said the procedures taught in the HMA program are based on accepted international standards. The team's goal was to show the Armenians the basic framework and then allow them to tailor that to fit their needs.<br /> <br /> The training was conducted under the auspices of the Guard's State Partnership Program. Kansas and Armenia have been linked since shortly after the nation at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.<br /> <br /> "This was a great opportunity to come out and meet the Armenians," said Sgt. Michael Rogers, a Kansas Guardsman."<br /> <br /> Pvt. Robert Abajyan, an Armenian engineer, said the training was valuable.<br /> <br /> "Cooperation and joint training such as this helps us to be prepared as professionals to face any mission Armenia or the world may ask of us," he said.<br /> <br /> - By Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Grieco<br /> <br /> Vermont<br /> <br /> New Heights: Troops Graduate From Spanish Mountain School<br /> <br /> Two Vermont Army Guard soldiers recently became the first Americans to graduate the Spanish Mountain Warfare School in Jaca, Spain.<br /> <br /> The Escuela Militar de Montaña y Operaciones Especiales is known for its rugged conditions and its high standards in military mountaineering.<br /> <br /> Spain invited the United States to send soldiers to the school to exchange mountain-warfare knowledge.<br /> <br /> Sgt. 1st Class Duncan Domey, an instructor at the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School in Vermont, and Sgt. Zechariah Burke, a member of 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry, completed the course in August after spending seven months in the unforgiving Pyrenees Mountains.<br /> <br /> The Pyrenees, which divide Spain And France, feature peaks reaching more than 11,000 feet. The Atlantic Ocean pushes cool moist air through the western edge of the range, dropping large amounts of snow during winter, when temperature average at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.<br /> <br /> Domey and Burke trained alongside Spanish soldiers during the school's two phases. The first phase was in the winter. The soldiers learn to ski at an instructor level and carry 100-pound rucksacks, often while skiing.<br /> <br /> The second phase, or summer phase, tests soldiers mentally. It features instruction on mountain rescue procedures. Soldiers are first taught basic self-rescue. They complete the course by demonstrating the ability to raise and lower a victim to safety in rugged terrain, using rope systems.<br /> <br /> Domey and Burke now have the right to wear the Spanish Mountain Warfare Device on their Army uniforms.<br /> <br /> "The Spanish Mountaineering Course was a good course and being able to leave the course at an instructor's level will not only benefit my unit but also the military," Burke said. -Vermont National Guard release<br /> <br /> Arizona<br /> <br /> 'Schoolhouse' Begins Training Iraqi Air Force's New F-16 Pilots<br /> <br /> The Iraqi Air Force may not take delivery of its first F-16 Fighting Falcon for two years, but some of its pilots are already learning to fly the fighter from the 162nd Fighter Wing.<br /> <br /> Two Iraqis have joined aspiring fighter pilots from Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore and the United States at the U.S. Air Force's international F-16 schoolhouse at Tucson (Ariz.) International Airport.<br /> <br /> A delegation of senior Iraqi Air Force officers visited the unit Aug. 30 to assess their students' progress and reaffirm their partnership with the desert fighter wing.<br /> <br /> "This is the first time Iraqis have flown F-16s," said Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali. "It's important for us to understand the training schedule and syllabus for our student pilots because the first pilots who train here will one day be examples for our other pilots."<br /> <br /> Abdulhussein said he flew Sovietera MiG-21s in 1986, but dreamed of flying the F-16. He finally had the chance during his visit to Tucson.<br /> <br /> "We reached more than 7 Gs during our flight, and the [tilt-back] angle of the seat made it easy. In the MiG-21 the seat is more vertical making G forces difficult," Abdulhussein said. "This is the best aircraft for us and this is the best place for our pilots to train."<br /> <br /> Arizona Air Guardsmen in Tucson train more than 70 international student pilots per year, offering several training programs that range from initial F-16 training to qualify new pilots to an advanced weapons course.<br /> <br /> Under the current contract between the U.S. and Iraq, the 162nd will train 27 Iraqi pilots. -By Maj. Gabe Johnson<br /> <br /> Texas<br /> <br /> Guardsmen Deliver Packages To Ethiopian Girls Orphanage Life is a little better for the girls at an orphanage in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, thanks to 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry, and the generosity of people back home.<br /> <br /> The Texas Army National Guard soldiers, now assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, delivered nine boxes of hygiene products and other supplies to the orphanage last month.<br /> <br /> Bad weather in Ethiopia has decreased the availability of such items in recent months, said Capt. Brett Anderson, the unit chaplain.<br /> <br /> "Ethiopia has had more rain than usual and even flooding in some areas," He said. "These supplies have become a lot more expensive to come by. The girls learn to live with very little, but having soap, shampoo and toothpaste certainly improves their quality of life."<br /> <br /> Fortunately, there are many organizations willing to deliver.<br /> <br /> "We had a group [back home in Texas] ask about how they could help people here," Anderson said. "We suggested the orphanage as we spend a lot of time there and knew they needed certain things."<br /> <br /> Since then more than 20 boxes have been sent for the orphanage, with additional boxes continuing to arrive from other sources. -By Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann<br /> <br /> Florida<br /> <br /> Civilian First Responders Join Guard Suicide Prevention Fight<br /> <br /> It's a situation few people want to be in. What do you do when a friend, family member, co-worker or a complete stranger says they are thinking about committing suicide?<br /> <br /> Participants in a recent Florida National Guard workshop learned several methods and tools to use if they find themselves in just such a situation.<br /> <br /> And for the first time, the Florida Guard incorporated local civilian first responders into the training as a way to engage the community in suicide awareness and share lessons learned.<br /> <br /> "The first responders have added to the perspective with their training and helped us think beyond some of the situations we encounter typically within the military," said Michael Mc- Farland, the Florida National Guard director of psychological health.<br /> <br /> Several members of the St. Johns County Fire Rescue attended the training not only to learn skills they can use when responding to calls, but also to learn to identify risk factors in their peers who-similar to soldiers-often work in stressful situations.<br /> <br /> "We're looking to give ourselves additional tools to recognize dangerous or at-risk behavior in our members," said Jim Beckett, a lieutenant with the St. Johns County Fire Rescue.<br /> <br /> For many, the workshop built on basic skills they already had and to intervene successfully to stop suicide.<br /> <br /> The interaction is also valuable because it will likely be a civilian responder who is first on the scene when a Guardsman is in crisis off duty.<br /> <br /> "We're creating networks and reaching out to community partners so that we all speak the same language because as Guard members we're going To interface with the community so often that we depend upon them and their resources," said McFarland. -By Sgt. 1st Class Blair Huesdens<br /> <br /> South Carolina<br /> <br /> State Glory: Soldiers in Kuwait Observe 9/11 With Storied Flag<br /> <br /> As the sun rose at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Sept. 11, a dozen soldiers from C Company, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry, gathered at the battalion's flagpole to raise their state's flag to half-mast to commemorate that day and the global struggle since.<br /> <br /> The slightly faded flag the South Carolina Army National Guard soldiers flew is part of that history, having made several trips to Iraq and Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> It belongs to C Company soldier Sgt. 1st Class Terry Pansing and his brother, Maj. Marcus Wright. They have taken carried it with them on more than a half-dozen overseas deployments.<br /> <br /> The brothers say they take it to honor South Carolina, where they were raised. "We weren't born there," said Pansing, "but it's our home."<br /> <br /> Sons of an Air Force noncommissioned officer, Pansing was born in Thailand and Wright was born in Germany. They came to America in 1984, when their father was assigned to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.<br /> <br /> Just before the 9/11 attacks, Pansing learned that A Company, 4th Battalion- his unit at the time-planned to retire the South Carolina flag that flew over its armory. At his request, the unit gave it to him.<br /> <br /> Pansing was on duty with A Company the morning of the 9/11 attacks.<br /> <br /> Although, his unit mobilized for a homeland defense mission immediately followed the attacks, Pansing was anxious to deploy overseas. But to even remain in the Guard, he had to become a U.S. citizen, a process that took about a year.<br /> <br /> "As soon as I got my citizenship, I volunteered for my first deployment, which was to Iraq in '04 and '05," Pansing recalled.<br /> <br /> Two years later, Pansing went to Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> Wright, meanwhile, completed a tour in Iraq and three tours in Afghanistan. Coming and going overseas, the brothers always took the time and trouble to exchange the flag that once flew over the armory in Moncks Corners, S.C.<br /> <br /> After Pansing completes his current deployment, he and his brother plan to put the flag in a display case with a plaque detailing its wartime travels. They'll then give it to their mother.<br /> <br /> Until then, Pansing plans to keep the flag in his room and bring it out only for special occasions.<br /> <br /> He says it gives him a sense of pride.<br /> <br /> "Even though we're away from home," Pansing said, "we bring a piece of home with us." -By Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta<br /> <br /> Sgt. Lee Savoy, a member of the 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, helps evacuate trapped residents of St. John the Baptist Parish, near New Orleans, after Hurricane Isaac.