Michigan National Guard SPC Ralph Mitchell of the 1-182nd Field Artillery Regiment and nine other members of his regiment help process and distribute food at the Forgotten Harvest Food Bank of Royal Oak, Michigan, Sept. 15, 2020. The Food Bank delivers surplus food to charities in metro Detroit. (Photo by Master Sergeant David Kujawa)
ROYAL OAK, Michigan – The Army National Guard has been helping communities across the nation manage the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic; the Michigan National Guard has been serving by helping a charitable food distribution network complete its mission.
Michigan Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen spent part of August working at the Forgotten Harvest food bank in Royal Oak, helping to sort, process, and ship the 138,000 pounds of food the charity delivers to Detroit area charities six days per week.
The Michigan National Guard’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force consists of more than 100 Soldiers and Airmen, activated by the state, to assist in efforts to respond, mitigate, and control the COVID-19 pandemic throughout Michigan. The task force has worked at eight food warehouses across the state to ensure that charitable food operations continue without interruption.
“It feels good to be part of a team that is doing something to give people hope,” says Specialist (SPC) Ralph Mitchell, one of nine Soldiers from the 1-182nd Field Artillery Regiment at the Olympia Armory in Detroit who were activated to support the COVID-19 JTF.
SPC Mitchell graduated from his advanced individual training course as am mechanic in May. The mobilization for the COVID-19 JTF is the first of his military career.
“It feels good to be part of a team that is doing something to give people hope,” he said. “I enlisted to do more in my community and serve my country.”
Like most members of the National Guard, SPC Mitchell is a member of the community – his civilian job is as an employee of Ford – who serves part-time in the Guard, ready to be called as needed. He was activated for the COVID-19 JTF in August.
“Mitchell is a motivated troop. His work ethic is equally impressive on both the COVID-19 JTF and in the battalion,” says Sergeant First Class (SFC) Darwin Brooks, a in the 1-182nd and Mitchell’s supervisor. “He shows great leadership potential and is eager to put in a full day’s work because he knows it’s helping people.”
Tyrone McClendon, a supervisor at Forgotten Harvest, says the Guard personnel who worked at the warehouse made a big difference. “They amazed me with their output,” he said. “Not only have they nearly doubled our numbers, but they do a great job at cleaning up before leaving each day.”
SPC Mitchell says working in a food warehouse wasn’t what he expected to be doing when he enlisted in the Michigan National Guard, but he is glad he’s had the opportunity to contribute.
“Coming into the warehouse each day in uniform and representing the Michigan National Guard is a rewarding experience. The employees at Forgotten Harvest show us tremendous gratitude and respect. I am thankful to have the opportunity to deploy for such a worthy cause,” SPC Mitchell says.
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From an original article by Master Sergeant David Kujawa, Michigan National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in September 2020.