Guard Spotlight: Missouri

Homeland Response Force MPs Attend Chemical Defense Training

Specialist Sarah Mitchell, 1175th Military Police Company, identifies an unknown agent with M8 detection paper. Mitchell was one of more than 90 MPs from the unit who participated in specialized chemical defense training last month. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Barginear)

Specialist Sarah Mitchell, 1175th Military Police Company, identifies an unknown agent with M8 detection paper. Mitchell was one of more than 90 MPs from the unit who participated in specialized chemical defense training last month. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Barginear)

A group of Missouri Army National Guard military police underwent specialized chemical defense training for the first time ever last month at the chemical defense training facility that’s headquartered at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

The pioneering effort is the brainchild of Staff Sgt. Amanda Barginear, along with Capt. Scott Wolf and 1st Sgt. Gabe Medina — all members of the 1175th Military Police Company based out of St. Clair and St. Louis.

More than 90 Soldiers from the unit’s Homeland Response Force (HRF) were selected to attend. That was a significant number, Medina says, and it heightened the exercise’s realistic, high-stress approach.

“Soldiers were given medical exams and initially took part in basic safety instruction sessions,” Medina said. Then “we were all fitted with protective equipment, including a service light-weight integrated suit and a protective mask.”

In each training scenario, the Soldiers were taught to detect and identify various chemical agents. Chemical alarms signaled the seriousness of the live agent training.

“Soldiers responded to the training techniques they received from the staff with confidence,” Medina said. After the live-agent identification session ended, Soldiers took a hands-on approach to decontaminating themselves and their equipment.

The day ended with a medical screening and a review of the eventful day, as they shared stories about their own experiences.

Capt. Michael Tompkins and other trainers said the experiment gave the MP Soldiers a “dynamic training opportunity” to gain confidence in themselves and the equipment used in a live nerve agent and toxic chemical environment.

“I hope it is not the last, and I look forward to any training opportunities that may take place in the future,” Tompkins said.

If you have an interest in gaining the training it takes to provide our Nation with top-notch emergency response, explore the National Guard jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

 

Original article by Staff Sgt. Amanda Barginear, 1175th Military Police Company, appeared last month in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Snapshot: Denver, Colorado

Volunteering in the kitchen makes for better cooks and a chance to help others.

SGT Robinson and 1LT Merrick prepare beef hamburger patties at the Denver Fisher House. Colorado Army National Guardsmen of the 193rd Military Police Battalion’s food service section prepare dinner for guests of the Fisher House once a month. The volunteer effort is part of an ongoing initiative for the Colorado Guardsmen to further develop their culinary skills while saving money and providing healthful meals.
SGT Robinson and 1LT Merrick prepare beef hamburger patties at the Denver Fisher House. Colorado Army National Guardsmen of the 193rd Military Police Battalion’s food service section prepare dinner for guests of the Fisher House once a month. The volunteer effort is part of an ongoing initiative for the Colorado Guardsmen to further develop their culinary skills while saving money and providing healthful meals.

For some, cooking is a means to an end, but for a select group of Colorado Army National Guard members, it’s a recipe of unqualified love.

“My joy is in watching others eat,” said Sergeant Joel Robinson as he began preparing the kitchen countertop at the Denver Fisher House.

Fisher Houses provide a home-away-from-home for military families, allowing them to remain close to their loved ones during hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury. And just like home, guests normally prepare their own meals – but not at this Fisher House.

On the menu on a recent summer night: An all-American barbecue, complete with pulled-pork sandwiches, grilled burgers, corn on the cob, pork and beans, and all the fixings.

Sergeant Anthony Patterson began cooking his signature pulled pork at his house the day before arriving here.

“Pork shoulder. Bone in. Just a slow simmer before it falls off the bone,” he said of his process that began 10 hours prior.

“We only get a chance to cook at drill twice a month,” said Captain Mark Tommell while slicing a hearty, crimson tomato. “By doing this, we train more often and get the opportunity to volunteer.”

CPT Tommell, the 193rd Military Police Battalion adjutant, has led multiple efforts to improve both the morale and the cuisine of the Soldiers in his charge. As the commander for Company E, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion in 2011, CPT Tommell recruited Chef Ronald Lavallee from Johnson & Wales University in Denver to further develop his cooks’ culinary skills. Not only did the ongoing effort provide decadent and healthful cuisine for all the members of his battalion, it also lowered the cost of contract meals by nearly 70 percent.

In addition to cost savings, CPT Tommell said he encourages creativity when designing meals to be served on drill weekend.

“It’s very common for units to order ‘heat ‘n’ serve’ food or cook bland Army recipes. It’s safe to say that no commander, food service officer, or Army food service specialist would ever prepare an Army recipe at their house,” he said. “We’re continuing this training at Johnson & Wales, cooking at the Fisher House, and preparing creative menus that focus on a variety of cooking methods.”

“I like ’em thick,” said 1LT Mackenzie Merrick as she mashed 2 ½ pounds of ground beef into dense patties for grilling.

SGT Robinson prefers his burgers just a little thinner, and made his assigned portions so, adding green chilies to the raw meat for a savory effect on the grill.

CPT Tommell said his intent is for everyone in the 193rd’s food service section to help prepare a meal at the Fisher House at least twice. With the initiative in full motion, he hopes to engage enough volunteers in the unit to keep the program going after he moves on to his next assignment.

“Captain Tommell has a great passion for supporting our troops, along with rallying other Soldiers to help with this cause,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Martinez, the 193rd’s battalion commander.  “I’m very proud I belong to a team of Colorado Guardsmen and veterans who want to give back to their own brethren.”

“Milk in the corn, makes it juicy and brings out the sweetness,” SGT Robinson said as he added a cup of creamy liquid to the pot of vegetables steaming on the stove.

“… Then debone and shred, add some barbecue sauce,” SGT Patterson said as he tore his main dish into bite-sized morsels for the dozen or so Fisher House guests. “Adding some of the original juices back in also helps keep the meat moist and retains its original flavor.”

For the completely self-funded initiative, the 193rd Soldiers also use their own time when it comes to preparing the guests’ meals.

“One of the missions of the Colorado National Guard is to serve our community and help our neighbors when they’re in need, and by cooking dinner for our fellow veterans and their family members while they’re staying at the Fisher House, we’re doing just that,” CPT Tommell said.

If you enjoy serving your community in its time of need, a career in the Army National Guard might be the right choice for you. Visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original story and photo by 2LT Cheresa D. Theiral, Colorado National Guard Public Affairs, appeared in the news section of co.ng.mil/.

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Drive + Determination = Serving Above and Beyond

SSG Danielle GorieSSG Danielle Gorie

At 8 years old, Danielle Gorie watched with wide eyes as Army National Guard Soldiers rolled into her Hurricane Andrew-ravaged town near Miami. They were there to hand out food and supplies, as well as protect the community from looting.

“It left an imprint on me,” she says about those difficult days in ’92.

Fast-forward three years and we arrive at the next important event to shape the decisions young Gorie would make for her own future. Her Naval pilot brother, Dominic, who was 20+ years her senior, got a call from NASA informing him that he was selected to be an astronaut candidate. Throughout middle school and high school, she looked on as her brother piloted several Space Shuttle missions.

By the end of her junior year, Gorie knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I had this superstar older brother, and I wanted to make my dad proud, too,” she says. “I enlisted in the National Guard on July 31, 2001. I just had to wait until I turned 18 to do my training.”

Of course, while she was waiting, four hijacked airliners crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pa.

“I watched the Twin Towers on television and just thought, ‘Wow.’”

Yet the events unfolding around her did not derail Gorie’s drive and determination: She was going to make her own mark by serving her community and her country in the Guard.

And that’s exactly what she’s done throughout her 12-year military career. Only when you’re motivated by such drive and determination, the word “serving” needs to be followed by “above and beyond.”

On Deployment

After Basic Combat Training, she completed Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as a 42A Human Resource Specialist and deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 with a Military Police unit out of Florida. But just a few days after their arrival, they lost several Soldiers in a vehicle accident. So Gorie volunteered for regular shifts driving one of the MP Humvees that patrolled Kabul. She also volunteered a couple of times each week to cover the night shift in one of the compound’s guard towers.

“I just felt like I was serving more of a purpose that way.”

Back in the States

Eight years later, Gorie – now Staff Sergeant Gorie – is still volunteering.

After returning to the States, she sought full-time Guard employment, first as a Recruiter Assistant and later as a Recruiter. Her outstanding work earned her a promotion in 2011 to become the Advertising and Marketing Non-Commissioned Officer (MNCO) for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion for the State of Florida.

MNCO duties can be exhaustive, from coordinating events to managing ad campaigns and budgets to running social media properties and more. But when SSG Gorie’s battalion commander sent out a special request via email this past spring, she was the only one who answered the call.

First Ever in Florida

The National Guard was first authorized drill instructor specialties back in 2008, yet no female Soldiers in Florida had ever accepted the grueling challenge of becoming a Drill Sergeant. Until now, that is.

SSG Gorie packed her bags in April and headed to 9 weeks of drill instructor training at Fort Jackson, S.C., with 88 other candidates from across the Nation.

“It was like Basic Training all over again. You get treated like a private, despite your current rank. It teaches you how to be a Drill Sergeant.”

She arrived on a Wednesday, and at 3 a.m. on Thursday reported for an Army Physical Fitness Test – the first of many training activities that would narrow the field down to a final graduating class of 60.

“Many couldn’t pass and went home on the first day.”

After that, SSG Gorie was up at 4:15 every morning and down at formation at 5 a.m. for 90 minutes of physical training, followed by a shower and breakfast. Either classroom or field training filled the rest of the day’s official learning activities until dinner chow, but the day was in no way over.

“After dinner is when you studied MOIs (Memorandum of Instruction). Each week you had to memorize several MOIs – some weeks there were eight of them. And then they would draw a card for one MOI and you’d have to pitch it verbatim. If you didn’t make it, you had to do it again at 4 a.m. the next day. If you failed a second time, you went home. It was the biggest disqualifier for the class.”

She had to re-pitch twice, but did so successfully and graduated on her 30th birthday in June.

Gorie now reports one weekend a month as Drill Sergeant for Florida’s Recruit Sustainment Program, which prepares recruits for Basic Combat Training in the months before they are scheduled to go. They learn basic Soldiering skills, physical training, map skills, and more.

“It makes Basic a lot easier and they have an absolute edge. Most get ID’d as squad leaders.”

Another First for the Future?

So, does SSG Gorie’s new role fulfill her drive and determination to make her mark in the Guard?

Yes – and no.

“I want to be Sergeant Major one day. We’ve never had a female Sergeant Major in our battalion, so I’m setting my sights toward that next.”

If you want to make your mark in the Guard like SSG Gorie, visit the Army National Guard jobs board and contact a Recruiter today.

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