National Guard Answers the Call for Hurricane Florence

A Soldier with the South Carolina Army National Guard pauses for a moment while working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to fill sandbags as a result of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence on Sept. 15, 2018. (Photo by SSG Jorge Intriago.)

A Soldier with the South Carolina Army National Guard pauses for a moment while working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to fill sandbags as a result of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence on Sept. 15, 2018. (Photo by SSG Jorge Intriago.)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – National Guard members flowed in from at least 28 states to help North and South Carolina units responding to Tropical Storm Florence.

More than 6,600 Air and Army National Guard members have responded to Florence, according to the National Guard Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Guard continues to respond to storms affecting Hawaii and Guam, and to wildfires affecting Western states, in addition to providing support to the Southwest border and to the fighting overseas.

In the aftermath of Florence, the National Guard provided aircraft and crews – including UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft; and KC-135 Stratotanker refuelers – as well as swift-water boats and high-water vehicles for rescue; security; generators; communications; road clearing; debris removal; food, water, and cot deliveries; and support to shelters and distribution points.

The North Carolina and South Carolina National Guard are both focused on lifesaving, search and rescue, and relief, having conducted hundreds of such missions as of Sept. 16.

Supporting States include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia National Guard is also supporting the response.

In the three days after the storm made landfall, Florence brought more than 40 inches of rain, leaving communities in both States bracing for flooding potentially affecting thousands of miles of roads.

In North Carolina, Guard members’ first priority is safeguarding lives and property. Hundreds of missions, mostly east of Interstate 95, had been completed, including search and rescue, swift water rescue support, sandbag operations, commodities distribution, evacuations, and support to local law enforcement and first responders.

“We’ll be standing in a very long line of National Guardsmen that goes back nearly 400 years; it’s uniquely a National Guard mission,” said Army MG Gregory A. Lusk, adjutant general, North Carolina National Guard.

Kentucky sent 60 members of the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. The unit’s command and control center was charged with synchronizing aviation efforts of communication, rescue operations, and overall assistance to those affected by the storm.

“This is one of the best parts of being a Guardsman, answering the call for help from citizens of our neighboring states,” said Army COL Dwayne Lewis, commander, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, Kentucky National Guard. “As an aviation unit, we know the expertise we bring is sometimes the only hope that those in need may have, and we take the mission of supporting our neighbors and rendering life sustaining aid very seriously.”

The Army National Guard has a dual mission to serve State and Nation. Service is part-time, which allows you the flexibility to pursue a civilian career or attend school by taking advantage of the Guard’s education benefits.

Soldiers are also trained in a military occupational specialty (MOS). There are about 130 to choose from in fields like administration, engineering, mechanics and maintenance, infantry and more. Check out our job board for details, and contact your local recruiter for more information.

From an original article by National Guard Bureau, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil on Sept. 16, 2018.

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Guard Helicopter Crew Awarded for Saving 6 Lives

Sometimes even first responders can get caught up in the same dangerous predicament as the people they’re trying to help, especially during flash floods.

Four members of the Louisiana Army National Guard were honored last month by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division for their aerial rescue of six people, including the LDWF’s SGT Rusty Perry and Winn Parish Firefighter Buddy King. The men’s boat capsized as they tried to evacuate people from a flooded area in Winnfield, La., on March 10, 2016.

The Guardsmen, CW5 Jack Mucha, CW2 Corey Sayer, SSG Chad McCann and SGT Aaron Adam, all members of the Bayou 69 Black Hawk Helicopter crew, were awarded the Citizens Exceptional Bravery Awards for their efforts.

When Perry and King could not be reached by other vessels or high water vehicles, the Black Hawk crew performed an aerial rescue in a less than ideal spot that required precision hover work, as told by the crew in the video below:

“There was probably only about 10 feet between the power lines and the edge of the trees,” said SSG McCann, whose job it was to lower SGT Adam down to the stranded men. Adding to the pressure was the fact that no one knew whether the power lines were still active, said Pilot CW5 Mucha.

“It was a nail biter for sure,” said CW5 Mucha, whose mind was also on the mission he and the rest of Bayou 69 were originally scheduled to be doing that day – a flyover of a memorial honoring the MOJO 69 crew – four fellow Louisiana Guardsmen and seven Marines – who had been killed in a helicopter crash on March 10 one year prior.

“We did not want to be accident No. 2,” he said.

It was also a close call for Perry and King, who needed immediate medical attention after being stuck in cold water for a few hours, according to COL John Plunkett, who is now Bayou 69’s commanding officer.

At the awards ceremony last month, “The one individual said that he was actually hypothermic, and close to not being able to hold on to the item he was holding on to,” said COL Plunkett. “[The Guardsmen] were pretty much their last hope for getting those guys out of there.”

After safely retrieving the two men, the crew then returned to the area to rescue the two people Perry and King were trying to help, plus two other stranded first responders.

CW5 Mucha said the only comparable mission he could think of was the hoist work and rescues he had done during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The most rewarding mission you can do is doing Medevac, and saving lives in combat and here in the State,” said CW5 Mucha, who has been a pilot since 1980. Mucha said most of his Medevac missions have been along the coastline, “so it was nice to help some people in our local area.”

So if you’re looking for a job with a mission, the Army National Guard offers 130 career choices, and not just in aviation. Check out our job board for more information on careers in administration, military police, infantry, mechanics and maintenance, logistics support, and more. For a complete rundown of the benefits of joining the Guard, contact your local recruiter.

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Guard Honored for Tool Designed to Speed Up Response Times

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Guard Bureau’s Joint Intelligence Directorate recently received an award for developing a program that gives Guard members and local authorities better situational awareness to speed up their response to emergencies, natural disasters, and large-scale events.

The Directorate was awarded the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s Government Achievement Award for its work on the Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool, or DAART, developed in partnership with the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command.

DAART is a web-based program that pulls together geospatial intelligence assets from a variety of sources, including terrain and mapping information from the U.S. Geologic Survey, as well as video feeds from overhead aircraft, and satellite imagery.

“The computing power we have and the ability to bring in information from all these disparate sources, you can really paint a picture for the commander,” said Thomas Merrill, head of National Guard Bureau’s Joint Intelligence Plans and Policy Branch.

The program, which debuted last year, stems from an earlier web-based system, but has added capabilities that provide users with close to real-time imagery, as well as interactive features that speed up communications between responding agencies.

“You’re bringing all sorts of information in, and it displays it geospatially,” said Merrill. “Any operation that you’re doing, you can see right now in either real-time or near real-time what’s going on.”

That gives Guard members the ability to respond faster in emergency situations, said Merrill. The program allows commanders to assess rapidly changing conditions, such as road closures in a large-scale flooding incident.

“[Those] who are responding, they’ll know which routes are still open and which ones to avoid,” Merrill said, adding that most people are saved within the first 72 hours after an emergency or catastrophic event occurs.

“The faster that we can get in there to get to people who are caught in voids or who are definitely in distress – the elderly or those who are isolated – the more people who can be saved,” he said.

DAART can be accessed not only by the Guard, but also by State and local authorities, or other responding agencies.

“It really highlights the Guard’s ability to harness technology at the most local level,” said Merrill. “It puts the Guard member at street level, if need be, along with the sheriff’s deputy or the local police, and they’re all looking at the same thing.”

Those capabilities speak to the Guard’s primary mission of serving the community.

DAART has already been used in a variety of missions, said Merrill, including the Presidential Inauguration in January and during last year’s wildfire response operations in California. During the wildfire response, it was instrumental in helping rescuers find a lost hiker.

Soldiers with the California Army National Guard’s 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion and 40th Brigade head out while responding to wildfires in July 2016. Last year’s California wildfire response saw one of the first uses of the Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Tool, or DAART, a web-based program that pulls together geospatial information from a variety of sources, including terrain and mapping data, video feeds from overhead aircraft, and satellite imagery.

“It was the first time it had been used to find a missing person,” said Merrill. “It helped rule out areas where she may have been. When they figured out where she was, they used the program to help vector in the search team, and she was saved.”

Merrill said he and his team are working on fine-tuning DAART and expanding its capabilities.

“It will save time, and it will save lives,” he said.

So, if you’re interested in working with, or even on, equipment to help your community in its time of need, consider joining the Army National Guard, where Soldiers serve part-time. The Guard offers training in more than 130 careers, described on our job board. And for more information about all the benefits that come with Guard service, like money for college, contact your local recruiter.

From an original story by SFC Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau, which originally appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in June 2017.

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