COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two South
Carolina Army National Guard members volunteered to deliver needed
supplies to Bahamian victims of Hurricane Dorian in five flights on a small
Carolina Army National Guard
Second Lieutenant (2LT) Sam Evans, 1-118th Infantry Battalion, Bravo Company
platoon leader, and 2LT William “Cole” Sanford Jr., Charlie Company, 1-151st
Attack Reconnaissance Battalion platoon leader, found the opportunity to volunteer via
an online forum from a group that had organized the collection of supplies but
needed pilots and planes to fly them to the Bahamas.
“I reached out to get more
details, and asked Sanford if he was interested in making the relief trips with
me, to which he said yes,” says 2LT Evans.
Hurricane Dorian inflicted
heavy damage on the Bahamas Aug. 24, 2019, killing at least 50 people and
leaving about 70,000 people homeless.
2LT Evans, a graduate of
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and
ROTC cadet, obtained his private
pilot license before commissioning and then returned to South Carolina. 2LT
Sanford, a graduate of Wofford College in South Carolina and an ROTC cadet, earned
his private pilot license for a single-engine, land, and fixed-wing aircraft
while attending school.
The two flew back and forth
from South Florida to the Bahamas five times in September on a two-seat
single-engine prop 1943 Luscombe Silvaire, delivering more than 500 pounds of
toiletries, tents, and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
“We were limited on space and
weight,” says 2LT Evans, who is pursuing a commercial pilot license. “We could
take about 100 pounds of supplies each trip and would pack aid into every space
“At the end of the day, what
we did was small,” says 2LT Sanford. “But it felt good that the toiletries and
other things that we brought could be helping someone. It may just have been a
pick-me-up for someone who had just lost their house.”
National Guard gives Soldiers like 2LTs Sanford and Evans the opportunity to
pursue civilian careers, education, and other training while serving
part-time in their home State, so there is time to further your career
while staying close to home.
earn benefits to help pay for education and
expenses while serving their country and their community.
– A service member is often born with a strong desire to help others. Whether
it’s coaching a child’s sports team, cleaning up the neighborhood, or any
number of other community activities, public service is frequently a common
trait of those serving in the military, specifically the Army National Guard.
in the South Bay community of Olympia, Washington, SFC Van Kirk lived down the
street from the South Bay Fire Department.
wanted to be a volunteer firefighter for a while, giving back to the community
I grew up in,” he recalls. “Being a full-time active Guard member, I wasn’t
sure if I would have that chance.”
He got his
chance three years ago when his Unit switched from a five-day workweek to a
four-day, 10-hour-a-day schedule.
schedule switch gave me the opportunity to go for it, and the leadership with
the Civil Support Team supported it.”
firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) takes time and requires the
individual to volunteer a certain number of hours to earn required
certifications. However, being a full-time member of the 10th Civil Support
Team and responding at a moment’s notice to support local law enforcement and
first responders also requires a lot of time and energy.
training for both firefighting and EMT is time-consuming,” says SFC Van Kirk. “My
command supported everything about me volunteering with South Bay.”
with South Bay hasn’t hindered SFC Van Kirk’s work at the CST.
volunteers 40-50 hours a month with the fire department,” says CST First
Sergeant (1SG) Paul Gautreaux. “He never misses a day of work with us though.
He is even there on Mondays getting our folks and gear ready for the week
Fourth of July, SFC Van Kirk put his training, both with the fire department
and the CST, to use during a critical situation. That morning, he and other
members of the South Bay team responded to a call involving a driver missing a
turn and hitting two small children who were playing on the shoreline.
“We got to
the scene first and the two children were injured pretty bad, so we immediately
called for additional EMTs, contacted the hospitals, and got everything
organized quickly,” he explains, adding the two children were rushed to a local
hospital at the time, and “are doing great today.”
SFC Van Kirk
received praise from his station leadership for his work.
our only volunteer who stayed on for the additional shift,” says John Clemons, medical
service officer with the South Bay Fire Department. “He organized the sub-units
to the incident and helped save the lives of two little ones. He is a real
asset to our station.”
dedicated Soldier is also an asset to the CST. “He [SFC Van Kirk] is like so
many in the organization,” says Major (MAJ) Wes Watson, commander of the CST. “They
are the quiet professionals, volunteering their own time to help others. It’s
just the spirit of the National Guard.”
LINCOLN, Neb. – Every Soldier in the Army National Guard has a story: the reasons why they joined the
military, picked their particular military occupational specialty (MOS), or
serve in their military Unit of choice.
For two Soldiers serving in the Nebraska
Army National Guard’s Troop B, 1-134th Cavalry, their stories are notably
different than those around them. That’s because Sergeant (SGT) Nicole Havlovic
and SGT Danielle Martin are two of the very few women serving in the Nebraska Cavalry
Squadron, and are two of only a few women in the nation who have successfully
graduated from the Army’s toughest combat arms MOS school, earning themselves
the title of Cavalry Scout.
It was that desire for something new
that drove her to join the Nebraska Army Guard Cavalry Squadron.
“I felt like it would be a perfect
fit. I’m pretty outdoorsy and this – being out in the field – doesn’t bother me
SGT Danielle Martin’s route to becoming
a Cavalry scout was not a direct one, either.
“I’ve always wanted to go into combat
arms,” she says. “It was a year before joining the military that I knew combat
arms was what I wanted to do. However, I was still junior-enlisted, so I really
couldn’t do much about it.”
The last restrictions against women
serving in combat roles were lifted in 2013. However, Army regulations
specified that Units were first required to have two female Cavalry scouts in
leadership positions before other female Soldiers would be allowed to join
their ranks. This made integrating junior-ranking women into the Units all that
much more difficult.
Both Sergeants attended Cavalry scout
reclassification school – an Army school designed to train Soldiers from other
MOS’ in the skills needed to become operational Cavalry scouts. SGT Martin
attended the November reclassification course in Boise, Id. After completing
the course, she reported to the Nebraska-based Troop B this past January.
SGT Martin says the reception she
received from her new Unit made her realize they respected her newly-earned
skills. She says it wasn’t about changing who anyone was, but rather, having
mutual respect between Soldiers.
“They don’t treat me any differently
just because I’m female. I’m one of the guys and I think it needs to be that way.
I’m not coming in here to change them, I’m coming in here because I know I can
physically and mentally handle it, and I want to do the job.”
SGT Havlovic attended the Cavalry Scout
Transition Course in Smyrna, Tenn., and reported to Troop B in April 2019. She too
says her fellow Soldiers don’t treat her differently than any other member of
“I expect them to believe that they
can trust me with the mission and what we have to do,” she says. “Everyone has
been welcoming to me.”
With the two women completing their
transition courses, Nebraska National Guard’s 1-134th Cavalry Squadron became
the ninth Army National Guard Unit, fourth Cavalry Troop, and second Infantry
Brigade Combat Team Cavalry Troop to be opened for junior enlisted female Cavalry
First Sergeant (1SG) Andrew Filips,
Troop B’s senior enlisted Soldier, has spent 15 years in the Squadron. He says
the change of policy wasn’t an issue.
“What it comes down to is that we’re a
Combat Arms Unit and there’s only one standard. You either make the cut, or
there are other Units for you to go to.”
First Sergeant (1SG) Christopher
Marcello of Grand Island’s Troop A, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron, is a 22-year
veteran of the Squadron. He has also been a member of the Grand Island Police
Department for six years. He echoes 1SG Filips’ sentiments.
“I work with women every day as a
police officer and that’s a tough job. Combat arms isn’t any different. You
have to have the right fit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. You
have to be the right kind of person to be a scout.”
The Nebraska Army National Guard’s
1-134th Cavalry Squadron is part of the larger 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team,
which is headquartered in Arkansas. The Brigade is responsible for providing
training and readiness oversight of its subordinate Units. According to Command
Sergeant Major (CSM) Gregory White, 39th IBCT senior enlisted leader, the Brigade
finds the right Soldiers for the job by looking at those who want to do it,
instead of looking at who can physically do it.
CSM White also says that women who
hold a combat arms MOS are the best representatives to recruit other women into
the field. He spoke with SGT Martin during a visit to Troop B’s recent annual
training in the Republic of Korea. They both agreed the focus should be on
reaching out to women who want the challenge of serving in a combat arms
position, and once they do, give them the tools they need to become advocates.
“Having her [SGT Martin] talk to them
is going to be so much better than a guy who has been in for 30 years,” he says.
“A 50-year-old man talking to these young women will not reach them the same
1SG Filips says the physical demands
are not the only aspect of combat arms that new recruits need to consider. The
relatively demanding training pace also makes Combat Arms Units different.
Troop B regularly trains in the field and spends most drill weekends training
throughout the night. That is often one of the more significant reasons why
some Soldiers eventually choose to transfer into the squadron.
“If you want to come into the Guard
and feel like this is what I want to do; (that) I want to … be awesome and be
the baddest dudes and wear the cool hats and do all that, then yes go for it,”
says 1SG Filips. “But if you are ‘I want to try this because it would be neat,’
there’s other places to be neat. Come here because this is what you always
wanted to do in life. You have to want it.”
1SG Marcello seconds these comments,
adding that Troop A is willing to let Soldiers – male or female – try being a Cavalry
scout for their drill weekend.
“We’re more than happy to let people
come in, try it out and if it doesn’t work for you, we get it,” he says. “It has
nothing to do with gender or sex; it has to do with whether or not you can do
Both SGT Havlovic and SGT Martin say
they realize they are now mentors and role models for those around them and encourage
other Soldiers to give it a try.
“It’s definitely something I would sit
down, explain to them, and educate them on,” says SGT Havlovic, who now works
for the State recruiting office.
“It’s not for everybody, it really isn’t.
I don’t believe that just because combat arms has been opened up to females
means that all females belong here – but if you can do it, then do it.”
If you’ve got what it takes to stand
alongside some of the strongest Soldiers, consider joining the Army National
Guard. By becoming a Soldier in the Guard, you’ll be able to serve part-time in your home State, and receive top-notch
training in the career field of your choice. Browse the job
board for opportunities in more than 130
specialties, including ground forces, aviation,
Contact a recruiter to learn how you can serve today!
From an original
article by SSG Herschel Talley, Nebraska National Guard, which appeared in the
news section of NationalGuard.mil in September 2019.