Guard Snapshot: Arizona

Promoted Arizona twins share National Guard experience

Frederick and Derick Aidoo were recently promoted to master sergeant. The twins joined the National Guard together 19 years ago and continue to serve side-by-side. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Murphy)

Frederick and Derick Aidoo were recently promoted to master sergeant. The twins joined the National Guard together 19 years ago and continue to serve side-by-side. (Photo by Capt. Matthew Murphy)

Twin brothers Derick and Frederick Aidoo — literal brothers in arms serving the State and Nation in the Arizona Army National Guard — recently pinned on the rank of master sergeant. According to their colleagues, they serve with two times the dedication, two times the commitment, and two times the honor.

Like many twins, the Aidoos have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences. About his service in the Guard, Derick said, “The Army has kept me on track. It keeps life on track with fitness and lifestyle.” Then Frederick said, “It’s a foundation. Something to tell your kids,” and Derick finished, “about being a Soldier and being proud to tell people who you are.”

The brothers are also two-time combat veterans, serving in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2010.

Chief Warrant Officer Hector Mendoza deployed with the brothers to Afghanistan, and Frederick served as Mendoza’s noncommissioned officer in charge. Mendoza had an opportunity to observe the brothers in action. “If one does one thing, so does the other. Their work ethic, their fitness level, their commitment — it’s exactly the same,” Mendoza said. “Frederick worked with me and Derick worked with another chief warrant officer. During the entire deployment, the brothers worked nonstop and refused to take a day off. I really admire them.”

While Frederick is an architect in his civilian life and Derick is a construction engineer, their military careers and training are mirrored. Having trained in supply and logistics, Frederick currently serves as the operations NCO/NCOIC for the 198th Regional Support Group and Derick is the logistics support NCO.

Looking back at their 19 years of service from when they joined in 1995, the brothers chuckled over their memories of basic training and advanced individual training (AIT). Derick said, “The drill sergeants didn’t like us too much because they couldn’t tell us apart and we were in the same group. So if they told one of us to drop and do pushups, the other had to do them too.”

They practically speak in unison about their love of the Guard: “Working with the Soldiers and helping families. We’ve had good leaders and they pushed us to this point. You have to have good leaders.”

Capt. Edwin Longwell, assistant plans officer for the 198th RGS and the twins’ current supervisor, said, “The Aidoos always see what needs to be done and they get it done. They don’t hesitate to take action and they don’t hesitate to speak up to help their chain of command. They are a cohesive team and their performance is as identical as they are.”

Achieving the rank of master sergeant in the Army is one rank short of the highest available. The brothers have no plans to slow down.

“Having a sibling join the Guard with you is a good idea,” Derick said. “I can always talk to him about the Army. We help each other and we feed off each other, and it motivates us.”

“Now we just look at the next opportunity,” Frederick added.

Look for your next opportunity in the Army National Guard by visiting our jobs board and contacting a recruiter today.

Original article and photo by Arizona National Guard Capt. Matthew Murphy was published May 5, 2014, on NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Snapshot: Connecticut

Connecticut’s 928th Military Working Dog Detachment is unique and ready

Dog teams at Connecticut National Guard's 928th Military Working Dog Detachment train at a minimum of eight hours each week. The 928th is the only military working dog unit in the United States that is part of the Army Guard/Reserve component. (Photo by Connecticut National Guard)

Dog teams at Connecticut National Guard's 928th Military Working Dog Detachment train at a minimum of eight hours each week. The 928th is the only military working dog unit in the United States that is part of the Army Guard/Reserve component. (Photo by Connecticut National Guard)

In the tradition of the legendary war dog, Stubby, and the brave Connecticut men he accompanied into battle in World War I, the Connecticut 928th Military Working Dog Detachment is ready and motivated for its missions.

The 928th, part of the Connecticut Army National Guard, is a full-time unit manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the only military working dog unit in the United States that is part of the Army Guard/Reserve component.

“Soldiers come to work every day and eagerly await new assignments,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Fountaine, kennel master and 928th commander. “Between assignments, the 928th teams train each day on current and new training certifications.”

Four dog teams — four dogs and four handlers — train at a minimum of four hours on odor detection and four hours on patrol and obedience each week. The time handlers spend with their dogs is more time than any other unit in the U.S.

“Our Soldiers are not here for short tours. They’re here for their careers. They have bonds with their dogs that won’t be found elsewhere,” Fountaine said.

Two of the teams are Army Forces Command-certified patrol explosives detection dogs (PEDD), trained in explosives tracking; one is a patrol drug detector dog (PDDD), certified in narcotics detection; and one is re-training to be a tactical explosives detection dog (TEDD).

The unit currently is fully staffed with Soldiers but has a few canine partner vacancies.

Training a dog takes a great deal of time before the unit receives the canine member of the team. The detachment has three German shepherds and one Belgian Malinois named Balou. Balou’s handler, Army Sgt. Kimberlee Ruppar, joined the detachment following a 2013 deployment to Afghanistan. She said she feels very fortunate to work with such a dedicated organization and with Balou.

“Members of the 928th receive such strong support for their training and readiness from their leadership, and the result is fantastic morale across the board,” Ruppar said. “Enthusiasm travels down leash. When we’re feeling great, the dogs are feeling great.”

The teams have to be aware of the intangible factors of dog-handling, Fountaine said. “It translates into other areas of their readiness.”

Since beginning operations in 2007, the 928th has undertaken some pretty important assignments, including providing military working dog support to 25 presidential missions and supporting Pope Benedict’s visit to Yankee Stadium in 2008.

Most of the dog teams have deployed overseas, as well. In 2012, the detachment traveled to Balikatan in the Philippines for narcotics, explosives, and combat tracking training, and in 2013, the kennel master and three teams deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Most recently, they supported patrol and explosives detection at the Boston Marathon, where two teams assisted the Massachusetts National Guard and Boston Police. In May, unit members and dogs deployed to train with the Uruguayan military in support of their continuing narcotics/terrorism prevention mission as part of the Connecticut National Guard’s State Partnership Program. And the 928th is currently working on new tracking training certifications.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure future readiness,” Fountaine said.

In fact, Balou’s readiness level is nationally recognized: The Belgian Malinois was awarded an American Kennel Club Award for service. It’s clear members of the 928th are proud of her. Her medal and plaque hang in their detachment’s common area.

“According to the Army, Soldiers and dogs are all functional pieces of equipment,” Fountaine said. “Here, that’s different. Our Soldiers know it. The dogs know it. That translates into success.”

To see all the unique jobs the Army National Guard has to offer, visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article by Connecticut National Guard Staff Sgt. Benjamin Simon was published April 22, 2014, on NationalGuard.mil.

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Guard Snapshot: Tornado Response

National Guard Members Responded to Tornado Outbreak Across Southern States

Arkansas National Guard members from the Conway based Special Troops Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assist a family in Mayflower, Arkansas, salvage precious heirlooms amongst the debris April 28, 2014. Guardsmen were called to respond to their fellow neighbors in need after a tornado devastated communities in central Arkansas April 27, 2014. (Photo by Maj. Matt Snead)

Arkansas National Guard members from the Conway based Special Troops Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assist a family in Mayflower, Arkansas, salvage precious heirlooms amongst the debris April 28, 2014. Guardsmen were called to respond to their fellow neighbors in need after a tornado devastated communities in central Arkansas April 27, 2014. (Photo by Maj. Matt Snead)

In the deadly aftermath of a tornado outbreak that struck across the South in late April, hundreds of National Guard members — in coordinated efforts with civilian agencies — responded to communities in several states.

In Arkansas, storms hit hardest in the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia.

Major Matt Snead, public affairs officer with the Arkansas National Guard, said about 70 Guard members were called to tornado-damaged areas. They brought with them 22 Humvees and various other vehicles and equipment, as well as provided a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Camp Robinson.

Snead said Mayflower and Vilonia are not far from Camp Robinson, and so several Guard members themselves were injured and lost homes, businesses, and other personal property when the storms hit.

To date this year, the Arkansas National Guard has performed more than 100 missions, such as manning traffic control points, presence patrols, search and recovery operations, water distribution, and access control in response to severe weather.

In Mississippi, severe storms and several tornados caused devastating damage to Lee County, near Tupelo, in the northern part of the state. Tim Powell, public affairs officer for the Mississippi National Guard, said about 50 Guard members responded in that area.

In the eastern part of the state, another 50 Guard members also responded to extensive tornado damage in Winston County near Louisville. They assisted first with search and rescue efforts and later contributed to recovery efforts. Powell said other missions Guard members conducted in that area included traffic control, checkpoints, presence patrols, and assisting local law enforcement as needed.

“The tornados were widespread,” Powell said, “and the men and women of the Mississippi National Guard responded very quickly and professionally.”

In Tennessee, about 20 Guard members also responded to storm damage, while more than 100 Alabama National Guard members went on standby pending any further severe weather in that state.

When disaster strikes in any state, the Army National Guard is ready and waiting for the call. If you want to be on that team, visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article by Staff Sergeant Darron Salzer of the National Guard Bureau was published April29, 2014, on NationalGuard.mil.

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