Guard Snapshot: Boston, MA

Spc. Brandon Smith, 169th Military Police Company, Rhode Island Army National Guard, pulls security during the starting line of the 2014 Boston Marathon. Approximately 600 Massachusetts National Guard members were deployed along the route to assist local authorities and more than 15 interagency partners in ensuring that the marathon would be as safe as realistically possible. Due to the record number of runners this year, Guardsmen from several nearby states augmented the Massachusetts Guard’s specialized units. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav

Spc. Brandon Smith, 169th Military Police Company, Rhode Island Army National Guard, pulls security during the starting line of the 2014 Boston Marathon. Approximately 600 Massachusetts National Guard members were deployed along the route to assist local authorities and more than 15 interagency partners in ensuring that the marathon would be as safe as realistically possible. Due to the record number of runners this year, Guardsmen from several nearby states augmented the Massachusetts Guard’s specialized units. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav

More than 800 Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island National Guard members helped local law enforcement agencies from eight cities and towns keep the 118th Boston Marathon route clear for runners as they hit the road last Monday.

The National Guard provided chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN), and improvised explosive detection teams, as well as medical and security personnel to help local communities along the 26.2-mile route ensure a safe and successful race.

The 79th Troop Command, Massachusetts National Guard, supervised and planned the Guard’s efforts to coordinate with local, state, regional, and federal partners to support the Boston Athletic Association as it continues to carry on the world’s oldest marathon.

This year’s race was categorized as a National Special Security Event by the Department of Homeland Security because of the 2013 bombings that killed three people and injured more than 250 people.

A significant change in the Guard’s security strategy this year was that all security personnel were armed military police or security forces specialists. During previous marathons, Guard members were unarmed while supporting the event. The National Guard Civil Support Teams that advise and help first responders to detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive weapons also were armed.

Lt. Col. Matthew Woolums, Commander, 1st Civil Support Team, Massachusetts National Guard, said, “We train year-round to advise and assist incident commanders and first responders. This year, we added more explosive detection training, and our Soldiers and Airmen carried weapons.”

All of the public safety agencies were committed to carrying out the safety plan in a way that did not diminish the runners’ and spectators’ fun. Public interest in supporting the city’s greatest race resulted in 36,000 runners registering for this year’s marathon, compared to 27,000 last year. The combination of more runners and tighter security was a challenge for planners.

Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard, said, “We were well-prepared to provide medical and security support to our civil authorities and communities, enhancing safety for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Our National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are proud to have been an integral part of this historic race and our nation’s ‘Boston Strong’ spirit of competition, compassion, and community.”

If you’d like the opportunity to secure your community as an Army National Guard Citizen-Soldier®, visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article by Sgt. 1st Class James Lally, Massachusetts National Guard.

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Female Firsts: African-American Soldier Promoted to Command Sergeant Major

Command Sgt, Maj. Veronica LaBeaud
Melanique LaBeaud, New Orleans native, places command sergeant major rank on her mother, Veronica LaBeaud of Pineville, La., at a Louisiana National Guard promotion ceremony at Camp Beauregard. This makes LaBeaud the first-ever female command sergeant major in the 256th IBCT, and the first-ever African-American female command sergeant major in the Louisiana National Guard. LaBeaud will now serve as the command sergeant major for the 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Command Sgt. Maj. Veronica LaBeaud of the 199th Brigade Support Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is more than just another Soldier. She is an inspiration.

After serving 32 years in the military, LaBeaud recently became not only the first African-American female command sergeant major in the Louisiana Army National Guard, but the first-ever female to earn this high rank in the 256th when she was promoted in a ceremony at Camp Beauregard in December.

LaBeaud took time to personally thank numerous family, friends, and colleagues for helping her achieve this accomplishment. “I still have a whole lot to do, and I promise I’m going to make everyone proud,” she said. “All the barriers they talk about, whether its race or gender, it’s not about that – it’s about working hard and going after it.”

Lt. Col. Jason Mahfouz, battalion commander of the 199th BSB, said the recent reversal of the policy that prohibited women from serving on the front lines in combat units made the appointment very fitting.

“I am proud the BSB has this distinction. I know she’ll inspire young enlisted females to rise to the rank and responsibility,” said Mahfouz. “It will open up a lot of opportunities for young Soldiers because it illustrates that all Soldiers have unlimited opportunities if they work hard to achieve their goals.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Sapp, senior enlisted advisor for the 256th IBCT, added, “It’s a new beginning by having LaBeaud serve in the 256th. She’s a go-getter – a Soldier’s person. She loves to communicate with Soldiers and never forgets where she came from. She brings something different to the table.”

Making the day particularly special for LaBeaud was that her daughter, Melanique LaBeaud, an audiology doctoral student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., could attend.

“I’m so proud of her,” Melanique said. “She’s been an inspiration to me my entire life. She set the bar high. Today proves it all paid off.”

Melanique said she couldn’t miss her mother’s promotion, even with her heavy academic workload as a third-year student.

LaBeaud raised her daughter as a single parent and primary caregiver. When Melanique was in elementary school, she went back to college to get her Bachelor of Science degree. This meant a lot of sacrifice for both of them, so LaBeaud said the achievement was a joint endeavor and success.

“As Melanique got older, she started to understand what that sacrifice was about,” LaBeaud said as she choked up.

As for the many young enlisted female Soldiers, LaBeaud has these words of advice: “If they set their goals high, it’s attainable. They just have to work hard, and there is no reason they can’t make it. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. You just have to really want it, and if you do, you can achieve it.

LaBeaud graduated from Southern University in New Orleans with a bachelor’s in computer information systems. She has held four different military occupational specialties and previously served as first sergeant for two different units: Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 139th Regional Support Group; and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

Visit our jobs board to learn which Army National Guard military occupational specialties are right for you, and contact a Recruiter today.

Original article courtesy of Louisiana NationalGuard. Story and photo by 2nd Lt. Rebekah Malone, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office.

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First Female National Guard Soldiers Graduate Field Artillery School

Army Specialists Nicol Vargas, Veronica Kramer, Autumn Aderhold, and Brandy Brasted all graduated from the Artillery School at the 139th Regimental Training Institute at Fort Bragg, N.C., on March 19, 2014.

Army Specialists Nicol Vargas, Veronica Kramer, Autumn Aderhold, and Brandy Brasted all graduated from the Artillery School at the 139th Regimental Training Institute at Fort Bragg, N.C., on March 19, 2014.

Specialists Nicol Vargas, Veronica Kramer, Autumn Aderhold, and Brandy Brasted all graduated from the Artillery School at the 139th Regimental Training Institute at Fort Bragg, N.C., last month.

Each from a different State, they are the first female Army National Guard members to complete the male-dominated Field Artillery School, but will definitely not be the last.

“They were excited, motivated, determined to learn. They asked lots of questions, had very positive attitudes, and completed everything that was asked of them,” said Kevin Hale, 139th RTI Field Artillery Instructor.

All 10 students attending the class have alternate Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) but wanted to be more incorporated into operational experiences. And what better way to do that than a reclassification course?

“It’s something different and more fun. We were behind a desk, and we wanted to get out there and do something better. We’re active!” Aderhold and Brasted both explained.

The 18-day course gives students 40 hours of classroom time to learn all the concepts, theories, and mechanics of a 13M Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Crewmember. They are taught artillery tactics and battle strategies, as well as how to calculate locations manually and electronically, how to handle ammunition properly, and how to operate gun, missile, and rocket systems.

Because the occupation primarily focuses on supporting infantry and tank units while supplementing cannon artillery in combat, the other 120 hours of the course are spent hands-on with the vehicles so that students can apply all the classroom concepts they learned.

“It was a lot when we started, but now it’s not nearly as much as they made us think it was,” Kramer said.

“Hands-on training is always so much better,” Aderhold added.

Service members have to maintain, supervise, and operate the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the newest wheeled chassis light version of the MLRS. It carries a single six-pack of rockets or one ATACMS missile, and can launch the entire MLRS family of munitions.

“I like downloading the truck, but I like running the HIMARS, too,” said Kramer.

They also learn the M270-A1 Self Propelled Loader Launcher, which is the tracked version of the M142. It can be operated with the same techniques and can launch up to 12 rockets in less than 60 seconds.

To operate these massive systems, crews work in orders of three (the driver, gunner, and the section chief). During training, students cross-train in each area to gain experience doing all three jobs needed in this three-man crew.

“The Soldiers sitting in these seats are the future of the National Guard,” Command Sgt. Maj. John Swart, North Carolina National Guard Command senior enlisted leader, told them. “It’s important that we work as a team.”

Field Artillery has been a part of the armed forces since the early 1900s and is one of various jobs that have been male-dominated until recently.

“The guys accepted them into the field artillery world, and they worked well as a team, as one Army, as it should be,” Hale said.

Visit our jobs board to learn more about 13M, field artillery, and other infantry careers in the Army National Guard, and contact a Recruiter today.

Original article courtesy of NationalGuard.mil news. Story and photo by Sgt. Leticia Samuels, North Carolina National Guard.

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