Guard Spotlight: Stateside Missions

Army National Guard Works to Secure the Homeland

Joining the Army National Guard appealed to Specialist (SPC) Alan Wainright because he could stay close to where he grew up in North Carolina, and not move from place to place every few years like full-time military service members do. 

The National Guard is unique in that 84 percent of its members serve in a part-time status close to where they live, and because this branch of the military fulfills a dual mission of serving the country and serving the community. A governor or the president can call up the Guard at a moment’s notice to help with homeland emergencies.

While SPC Wainright has not deployed overseas in his five years with the Guard, he is fresh off two back-to-back stateside missions in North Carolina this fall, working riot control in Charlotte in late September, and then helping out during Hurricane Matthew and the residual flooding it caused further inland earlier this month.

SPC Wainright, like all Guard members, goes where he is called, but because of his training in security and law enforcement as a 31B- Military Policeman, his role during the flooding was less about rescuing stranded residents, providing them with necessities like food and water, or storm cleanup.

“Our mission up there was more to protect buildings from looting. We did help out fire and rescue because we had thermals and night vision, but that wasn’t our main mission.”

Looting turned out not to be a problem in the Lumberton, N.C., area during the flooding. That was also the case when SPC Wainright was called up to help with riot control in Charlotte for about a week. By that time, local police had back-up from state police and the Guard.

“It’s amazing when you’ve got a lot more eyes and hands on deck, stuff like [looting] doesn’t go down.”

Demonstrators in Charlotte were protesting the death of Keith Lamont Scott, an African American man who was shot by a city policeman. Police said Scott was armed with a gun and did not comply with their orders. Scott’s family said he was unarmed.

SPC Wainright said most of the resentment protestors expressed was directed at local law enforcement rather than Guard Soldiers.

“They were mostly friendly,” he says. “You had a few that got a little mouthy and wanted to talk junk, but for the most part they respected us and left us alone.”

Some of the other Guard work SPC Wainright has done in his home State is to provide traffic control for races and security when the Democratic National Convention came to Charlotte in 2012.

Unlike most of his fellow Soldiers, SPC Wainright works full-time for the Guard. He is part of a mobile recruiting team out of Raleigh, N.C. That means he gets lot of questions about joining the Guard and what he likes best about it, which is:

“The benefits and also just traveling. I’ve seen a lot of different States and a lot of different things that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t with them.”

So, if you’d like to learn more about the Guard’s benefits or one of the careers you can pursue, check our job board or contact your local recruiter.

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

Guard Spotlight: Illinois

Guard Soldier’s Invention Has Army-Wide Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard has invented a device that improves Soldier safety and equipment longevity, and has recently been adopted Army-wide.

Sergeant (SGT) Wesley Todd, a machinist with the Illinois Army National Guard’s Combined Support Maintenance Shop at North Riverside Armory in North Riverside, Ill., has designed and fabricated a tool that makes removing a seized howitzer muzzle brake easier and safer for Soldiers when they make repairs or perform maintenance tasks on the guns.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Steve Murphy, armament supervisor at the maintenance shop, said SGT Todd took it upon himself to create the device when he saw Soldiers struggling to remove a seized muzzle brake on a light howitzer.

“It can be very difficult to remove the muzzle brake,” said CW2 Murphy. “They sometimes seize up in varying weather conditions.”

SGT Wesley Todd of the Illinois Army National Guard checks the measurements on a device he invented that makes removing a seized howitzer muzzle brake easier and safer for Soldiers when they perform repairs or maintenance on the guns. The device has been adopted by the Army, and is scheduled to be manufactured and distributed to maintenance organizations Army-wide. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Adams)

SGT Todd’s device allows Soldiers to apply enough force to remove a seized muzzle brake, but in a way that doesn’t damage the gun tube or its rifling grooves.

Soldiers would normally use sledgehammers to free a seized muzzle brake, which often resulted in additional damage to the muzzle brake, and had the potential to damage other parts as well, said CW2 Murphy, adding that just the gun tube of a howitzer can cost more than $265,000.

“Using this device instead of a sledgehammer has and will continue to keep the Soldier safer when working on the equipment,” said CW2 Murphy. “The device has also made the process much faster.”

SGT Todd, who has worked as a machinist at the shop for three years, said he normally repairs damaged parts and makes new parts for military vehicles and equipment.

“It’s an honor to know I improved the Army in a small way,” he said.

After review of the device, it was approved and scheduled for Army-wide implementation by the end of the year.

“This Soldier’s invention will increase safety and save the entire Army hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment parts and repair time,” said Army Maj. Gen. (MG) Richard J. Hayes, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “These are resources that will now be able to be devoted to other U.S. Army priorities.”

For MG Hayes, it serves as an example of leadership and initiative.  

“SGT Todd has shown how a single Illinois Army National Guard Soldier can improve a process for the entire Army, and his leadership has shown us a great example of how to listen to your Soldiers’ ideas and help them implement positive changes,” he said. 

Despite the invention’s big impact, Todd said it was just another day’s work. 

“Making things is a part of my job,” he said. “This is by far the most impactful thing I have ever made, though.”

So if you’re interested in making an impact as a Soldier, whether it’s to help your fellow Soldiers, help your country or your local community, learn more about Guard careers on our job board, where you will find more than 150 options. Contact your local recruiter for specifics on jobs that interest you, and find out about the benefits of this part-time service.

From original article by Staff Sgt. Robert Adams, Illinois Army National Guard, which appeared in September 2016 in the news section of


Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

Guard Spotlight: North Carolina

Editor’s note: Hurricane Matthew may have exited the country, but its No. 1 after-effect, namely flooding, is still causing problems in the Southeast. As of last week, parts of central North Carolina were still being evacuated because of rising rivers that hadn’t yet reached flood stage.

Fortunately, thousands of Army National Guard Soldiers were on hand to help their neighbors in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida as Matthew subsided. They went to work by providing supplies, clearing roadways, evacuating citizens from their homes, and saving lives by boat, helicopter, and high-water trucks. The following story is yet another example of how these Soldiers can be counted on to serve their communities when tragedies strike.

Soldiers’ Swift-Water Rescue Training Saves Stranded Nurse

WILSON, N.C. – Most Army National Guard Soldiers serve part-time in the military, drilling with their Units, located close to where they live, once a month. They also typically attend a two-week training in the summer.

For 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Wyatt Koch and Specialist (SPC) Robert Shook, their training in swift-water rescues at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, completed only months ago in June, could not have been timed better.

The Soldiers, both combat engineers from the 151st Engineer Battalion, rescued a local nurse, who had been stranded clinging to a tree for hours outside of Wilson, N.C., during severe flooding from Hurricane Matthew in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 9.

The nurse did not return home from work and was reported missing when the N.C. Emergency Management Central Branch was called to send out a search and rescue team. Capt. Bert Henderson from the Wilson Fire Department and the two National Guard Soldiers were part of a multi-agency rescue team that began looking for the missing woman early Sunday morning.

2LT Koch and his team began to drive down a flooded road outside of Wilson, when they heard over the radio that another team could hear a cry for help. SPC Shook cut the engine off to the team’s Humvee when he heard faint cries of “help!” The three men got on the hood of the Humvee and began to use searchlights to look for the person calling out.

SPC Robert Shook and 2LT Wyatt Koch. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Army National Guard.

Henderson was the first person to spot the flood victim, and SPC Shook threw his rescue rope first, but the current carried it away. 2LT Koch threw next, further upstream, and it was able to make it to the stranded woman. They began to pull her in, but she lost her grip, still yards away from the rescue team.

SPC Shook jumped into the floodwaters, quickly retrieving the woman, and began to buddy swim back to the Humvee. The current was too strong to fight, so SPC Shook began to tread water until another swift-water rescue boat pulled alongside the pair and pulled them into the boat. The team was able to bring her back safely to dry land.

“The [swift-water rescue] training worked tremendously,” SPC Shook said. “I never would have guessed that only a few months later I would be using it to save a life.”

The team continued to provide aid until paramedics arrived and took the woman to Wilson Medical Hospital. She had been in the water for more than four hours.

“I never thought that I would be jumping into floodwaters, but my training kicked in,” SPC Shook said. “All I knew was that I had to get to her and save her. This is what I signed up for, to serve my country and to help people.”

So, if you’d like to help your country, your neighbors and potentially save lives when disasters strike, contact a recruiter and check out our job board where you can find more information about Guard careers like combat engineer and others. There are more than 150 choices.

From original article by Capt. Matthew Boyle, 382nd Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in October 2016 in the news section of


Share on FacebookShare on Twitter