National Guard March 2011 : Page 42
STATE ROUNDUP Calm After the Storm Hundreds of Guardsmen do more than help stranded motorists and house-bound citizens after snow blankets much of the country IGHTEEN INCHES OF snow in central Missouri last month turned Sgt. 1st Class William Hancox and Spc. Tony Badders into chauffeurs for Ar-linda Wilson, a registered nurse and home health and hospice coordinator. Wilson wanted to check on two elderly patients isolated by the storm. With the help of the soldiers of the 220th Engineer Company, she was able to do that. “It was really wonderful having the Mis-souri National Guard available to us today,” Wilson said later. “I am so relieved that a nurse had hands-on contact with our pa-tients.” Hancox summed up the attitude of peo-ple who rely on the Guard for help when-ever emergencies arise. E 42 | Na tional Guard
Calm After the Storm
Hundreds of Guardsmen do more than help stranded motorists and house-bound citizens after snow blankets much of the country
EIGHTEEN INCHES OF snow in central Missouri last month turned Sgt. 1st Class William Hancox and Spc. Tony Badders into chauffeurs for Arlinda Wilson, a registered nurse and home health and hospice coordinator.
Wilson wanted to check on two elderly patients isolated by the storm. With the help of the soldiers of the 220th Engineer Company, she was able to do that.
"It was really wonderful having the Missouri National Guard available to us today," Wilson said later. "I am so relieved that a nurse had hands-on contact with our patients."
Hancox summed up the attitude of people who rely on the Guard for help whenever emergencies arise.
"These people don't know you," he said, "but they trust the uniform."
People across about a dozen states put trust in the uniform of Guardsmen when a massive storm covered much of the country with record amounts of snow, choking roads, canceling airline flights and knocking out electrical power. About 2,500 Guardsmen were called out to help stranded motorists, check on isolated citizens and provide whatever assistance was needed.
That turned out to be only the first turn at bat. About one week later, another storm slammed Oklahoma and Arkansas, once again requiring the Guard's attention.
But it was that first storm that set records and will be remembered.
In Wisconsin, Guardsmen were able to negotiate treacherous road conditions to reach stranded bus passengers and move them to safety. It was one of numerous such missions performed by the Guard.
"The Guard was able to get to places where our rescue vehicles and even our snow plows couldn't," said Steve Braun, the emergency management director for Grant County in Wisconsin. "The Guard was a great asset."
The blizzard affected millions of people from Texas to Maine, but the hardest hit states were in the Midwest and that's where the Guard responded in greatest numbers.
More than 500 troops were called out in Illinois, where Chicago was slammed by its third largest storm on record. More than 20 inches covered the Windy City and most of the state was affected.
The Guard provided 156 vehicles for the mission, said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the Illinois adjutant general.
"The Illinois National Guard answered the call when their communities were in need and assisted more than 200 stranded motorists," he said.
In other states, more than 100 Oklahoma Guardsmen assisted stranded motorists and supported generator movements in the Sooner State.
Kansas Guardsmen helped medical personnel get to work and gave a helping hand to motorists trapped by the storm.
Iowa Guard troops helped stranded motorists, as did Texas troops. Similar efforts were completed in Arkansas and Indiana.
In Missouri, troops were put in position ahead of the storm in areas expected to be hardest hit.
This not only gave them a head start on rescue efforts, but indicated to citizens that the storm would be bad and help was available.
"By getting our troops out to their task forces early, we sent a message to Missourians that this was going to be a serious storm and that help had already arrived," said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, the adjutant general of Missouri. "Although there's no way to measure it, we know that early action saved lives."
A Wisconsin resident was perhaps speaking for many in an e-mail sent to the Wisconsin Guard. The communication said, "This is an event we will never forget. I truly want to thank the National Guard and the [Walton County] sheriff's department. . . . You all will be so very blessed for all you did."
–From National Guard releases
Leaving Home: Air Guard Wing Bids Farewell to Historic Base
An era ended last month when the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard bid farewell to its longtime home at Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage, Alaska.
The wing has called the base home since 1952, but the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure rulings closed the base and shifted the wing, along with its 1,400 members, to Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson (JBER).
"Although we love this area and will always be connected to it, JBER offers the wing growth as a team and a partnership that works," said Brig. Gen. Charles E. Foster, the wing commander. "The benefits far outweigh the downsides in this move."
During a ceremony Feb. 12 at the base, five C-130s from the 144th Airlift Squadron, four HH-60 helicopters from the 210th Rescue Squadron and two HC-130 air refuelers from the 211th Rescue Squadron were flown from Kulis to JBER in a ceremonial flight to mark the transition.
The base is ingrained in the history of southern Alaska. When the devastating Good Friday earthquake struck in 1964, it was the coordination center for disaster relief.
"We had set up 100 beds where people could stay and opened up the mess hall and started serving people who didn't have a place to go," said retired Lt. Col. Harold Wolverton, who was base commander from 1963 to 1969.
The wing has grown close to the neighborhood around Kulis in nearly six decades of friendship. One business owner had mixed feelings as his friends prepared to move.
"It's been like a security blanket," said Rich Owens, the owner of a nearby Tastee Freez. "I knew Tastee Freez could sustain ups and downs because Guard patrons were there to maintain it.
"It's a good move for them and I will surely miss them. There are just so many memories, but I know our relationship is a strong one and we will continue to support one another in the future no matter where we are physically located."
–Alaska Air National Guard releases
Around the Clock: Controllers Handle Flights at Civilian Airport
Airmen from the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron keep the skies safe by directing air traffic at central Louisiana's major airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While the majority of the nation's airports have civilian controllers in charge, the members of the Louisiana Air National Guard unit, one of 10 air traffic control squadrons in the Air Guard, are the primary controllers at the Alexandria International Airport.
"The 259th has three main missions: 24/7 operation of the tower, a federal mission and a state mission," said Maj. Kevin. S. Eggler, the squadron commander.
The airmen manage the locations of hundreds of aircraft each day, which translates to more than 45,000 annual operations. They keep the aircraft at safe distances from each other and guide them during takeoff and landings with minimal delay.
"Seeing the diverse range of aircraft at a civilian airport allows me to become a more disciplined, efficient and competent air traffic controller," said Senior Airman William S. Pearce III, an air traffic control journeyman. "The transition from a military-only base to a civilian airport has made me a more knowledgeable controller by teaching me the logistics and planning that is necessary for the safe and expeditious handling of civilian aircraft."
In addition, controllers from the 259th perform the demanding task of monitoring the weather and reroute aircraft when necessary according to specialized procedures.
"You get an adrenaline rush when it gets busy in here," said Tech. Sgt. Lawrence C. Pharr, an air traffic control craftsman from New Orleans. "This is the best job with an opportunity to extend my career as a civilian when I retire from the Air National Guard."
–By Tech. Sgt. Sienna M. Schehr
Training Pays Off: Aviation Unit Completes First Rescue Mission
The South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team, formed in September 2009, put its 18 months of training to good use last month when the team completed its first live rescue mission.
SC-HART is only the second program of its kind in the nation, and it's a collaboration between Task Force 1 (Urban Search and Rescue Task Force- State Fire Marshal's office), Emergency Management Division and the South Carolina National Guard.
The Guard contributes all the aviation assets and the hoist operators, and Task Force 1 provides the trained rescue technicians who actually depart the aircraft and assist the injured, getting the patient into a litter or harness and onto the aircraft.
On the afternoon of Feb. 11, the Guard launched a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with a crew of four, plus three rescue technicians, all members of the SC-HART program, from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C.
They flew to a heavily wooded swamp area in Georgetown County, where an individual had accidentally shot himself in the leg.
Just one hour after takeoff, the injured man was on board the aircraft and en route to Georgetown Airport where an ambulance was waiting.
"The outstanding and meticulous training our SC-HART personnel have completed paid off today," said Col. Paul Horry, the state Army aviation officer for the South Carolina Army Guard. "The entire mission was executed flawlessly."
–South Carolina National Guard release
Long Night: Medics Keep Watch On Injured Boy in Afghanistan
Some medics from Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, in Afghanistan helped care for and evacuate a boy who fell more than 15 feet and landed on his head.
The boy was brought to the aid station at Combat Outpost Herrera in Paktya province in January with swelling in his neck that interfered with his ability to control his arms.
After determining that the boy's injuries posed a risk to his limbs and possibly his life, Sgt. John Edwards, senior medic at COP Herrera, decided to see the boy. He already had been seen by physicians at a district hospital, but they did not have the capability or equipment to properly help him.
"If [a patient] has not been seen at the Jaji District Hospital, [normally] we don't allow them onto the COP," said Edwards, explaining the medical rules of engagement for Army medical personnel.
Those rules state coalition forces are not to treat Afghans unless the injury threatens life, limb or eyesight.
With no air evacuation assets available due to bad weather, the medics were in for a struggle to keep the boy's vital signs stable until advanced care became available. They tended the boy through the night, regularly checking his pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and ability to move his arms.
Medics even played games with the boy, putting on a puppet show and encouraging him to use his hands and arms to grip a ball. After midnight the boy started to show small signs of improvement.
"He started to get some fine motor function of his left arm," said Edwards.
After daybreak Jan. 29, the ambulance at the Jaji hospital transported the child to a hospital in Gardez City.
–Combined Joint Task Force 101 release
Engineers Build Roads, Future In Unique Partnership with Iraq
Engineers with Task Force Badger are building roads and bridges and clearing routes of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq.
But they are also building friendships and preparing Iraqi engineers for the future of Iraq.
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion is the headquarters element of the task force, which is an amalgam of units from across the Army.
In addition to the Wisconsin Army Guard element, there are Guard engineer units from Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, active-component units from Fort Riley, Kan., and Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash., and Reserve units from Illinois and Virginia.
As the mission in Iraq has evolved under its new name, Operation New Dawn, the mission of the engineers has turned more to advise, train and assist the Iraqi soldiers who will continue the work when U.S. troops leave.
Whether it is bridging or road building, the Americans have steadily turned over responsibility to the Iraqi army engineers.
One of the major accomplishments was the construction and opening of the Iraqi Army Engineer School.
"We took the project as a means of teaching the IAES cadre typical U.S. construction methods," said Capt. Andre Cieslicki, the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 724th Engineer Battalion.
He and Sgt. Patrick Kinney, a teacher in civilian life who works construction in the summer, were ramrods of the project. During the construction, they were able to mentor and coach the school's entire cadre through three classes.
"Our greatest success was in the friendships we built and sustained over the entire course," Cieslicki said. There is still plenty of engineer work to be done and Task Force Badger has been busy doing it.
Staff Sgt. Corey Duerr, the battalion construction noncommissioned officer in charge, said building roads, security barriers and drainage ditches and ponds are some recent projects.
"Most of the work is done by soldiers and heavy equipment, however local constructors are used from time to time to assist with the acquisition of materials such as gravel," he said.
Another important task, Duerr said, has been repairing damaged main supply routes. These tasks must be done "within a specified timeframe in order to ensure troops and supplies could move through theater unimpeded."
Although Iraq is a much safer place than in the past, it is not without its dangers. One of the toughest jobs for the engineers is route clearance–removing IEDs before they can strike.
First Lt. Jonathan Creed, who is in charge of the battalion counter-IED effort, said it is "one of the most dangerous operations conducted by U.S. forces."
Two soldiers on the route clearance patrols have been killed during the task force's efforts.
"Although combat engineering is a secondary task for most engineers, route clearance is a specialized mission that requires extensive equipment and operational training to ensure mission success," Creed said.
Even on these patrols, however, as in all efforts of the engineers, the goal is to advise and assist Iraqis.
Another important mission for the engineers is reducing the U.S. footprint in the country as the date to pull out all troops approaches. Task Force Badger soldiers are steadily shipping excess equipment back to America.
–Compiled from unit dispatches
Read the full article at http://www.nationalguardmagazine.com/article/State+Roundup/659771/63188/article.html.