Cargo flight to Saint Croix – enlisted leader, spouse find new assignment

Sassy, a Yorkshire Terrier, awaits a flight out of Savannah Air National Guard Base to St. Croix, Sept. 24, 2017, along with three other pets. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith) 

SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. – The National Guard hit the ground running this week to bring disaster response to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but getting off to a quick start is an understatement for Batina “Blue” Wesson and her husband, Army Sgt. Maj. Derwin Wesson.

Sergeant Major Wesson is the incoming U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard Command Sergeant Major. Hurricane Maria hit before he could arrive to take the position as the senior noncommissioned officer for all enlisted Soldiers.

“We’re going in with boots on the ground and get in,” said Blue.

She sat outside the door of an Air National Guard airlift hub and contingency processing center Sept. 24 at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. The sergeant major checked on their flight to Saint Croix. Accompanying her were their pets, Zoo, a Bengal cat, as well as three dogs – Sassy and Pinky Winky – both Yorkshire Terriers – and Mr. Biggie – a Miniature Pinscher.

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165th Airlift Wing keeps disaster relief moving

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base prepare 38,000 pounds of meals-ready-to-eat, Sept. 26, 2017, to send as air cargo to disaster areas from Hurricanes Maria and Irma at Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Air Terminal Operations Center at Savannah Air National Guard Base were operating around the clock this week to send disaster relief to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The group of more than 16 Airmen began 12-hour shifts for handling air cargo out of Savannah shortly after the islands’ devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria became known.

By the looks of things here, the busy operations seemed a good sign that the military did not forget those in dire need.

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Carried response to Maria

Air National Guard Airmen with the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, Ga., drive forklifts with hurricane response supplies and gear for airlift to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, Sept. 25, 2017, at Savannah Air National Guard Base. The cargo was loaded onto a 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard C-130J cargo aircraft. The flight departed this morning with a security forces contingency from the Washington Air National Guard as well as embedded national media from NBC nightly news. As of Monday morning, the 165th Airlift Wing loaded C-130 and KC-135 aircraft from 11 states with cargo, gear, and passengers in 69 sorties to the disaster areas in Puerto Rico and St. Croix. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith)

Air Guard wings line up at Savannah for Maria recovery

(A team of Air National Guard aerial porters from the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah load a palette of water destined for St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Sept. 22, 2017. More than four tons of water and food will be delivered to people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Photo by 165th Airlift Wing)

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Air National Guard Airmen began lining up operations for aircraft, cargo, and passengers through Savannah Air National Guard Base here Sept. 22 to support the recovery and relief operations after Hurricane Maria lined up to pulverize Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced disaster declarations shortly after Maria passed over the islands to be among the strongest recorded hurricanes to hit the United States. It followed two other major hurricanes making landfall this month.
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Anticipate this to help, for any disaster

Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can. The official logo for National Preparedness Month 2017. (Photo illustration by Ready.gov.)

Why check your emergency information? September is National Preparedness Month. Americans know natural disasters, if not from personal experiences, then through others’. Anticipating a disaster helps ensure our preparedness.

I’ll share my first memory, of Tropical Storm Carrie in 1972. I was four. I don’t recall much except that we had a gas stove and my mom popped corn in the dark while the thunder boomed outside. (I realize that this is small in comparison to disasters others faced, but it was pretty scary. So it must be for the kids in Houston.)

As Hurricane Harvey reminds us, while our memories fade, events may spring unrealized, anywhere and anytime. All severe weather can cause significant damage and risk of life. The need for proper emergency planning is critical in response. So if you’re with me, this might be our fair warning to recheck our records and plans for ourselves, family and friends.

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Vigilant Guard managers put the KaBOOM in terrorism exercises

GUAM – KaBOOM!

Exercise managers for the Vigilant Guard homeland security exercise added realism, Sept. 16, 2008, by blowing up balloons filled with explosive gas.

KaPOW!

They tested the balloons today. Tomorrow the noisemakers will prompt police swat teams to move in on a suspected fake terrorist hideout at a hotel. Along with phony blown up cars, it’s all been fabricated by the National Guard’s civilian exercise managers.

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Guard Civil Support Team brings unique capability to exercise

By Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith | National Guard Bureau

FORT LEWIS, Wash. – In a training exercise that involved a suspected improvised explosive device releasing an unknown poisonous gas, the Washington National Guard’s 10th Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team (CST) responded to the mock danger area May 2.

Their actions were part of a larger, national exercise hosted by the Department of Homeland Security called “National Level Exercise 2008” (NLE-08).

The multi-state venue joined federal, state and local responders May 1-8 in east and west coast training scenarios, which tested their ability to react to domestic emergencies.

Guardmembers here trained at the 52-building urban training center called “Leschi Town” on Fort Lewis. The comparative ghost town is an active-duty Army property on the southern end of the base’s 86,000 acres. Normally, it prepares combat Soldiers for military operations in urban terrain. Here, responders used it in NLE-08 to simulate downtown Seattle.

“Primarily for the CST, this isn’t anything above and beyond what they normally do, as far as the hazard and the detection of it,” said Jeff Taylor, U.S. Army North evaluator.

Taylor and a U.S. Army North team evaluated the 10th CST to see if the team’s response met a multitude of regulations and standards.

Civil Support Teams augment local and regional response capabilities in events known or suspected to involve the use of chemical, biological or radiological agents. Currently, there is at least one Guard CST in each U.S. state and territory.

“We are kind of considered second responders; with the local authorities being first responders,” said Capt. Matt James, CST operations officer.

James explained that when a CST arrives on the scene, they work for the local incident commander and bring him a unique capability to analyze suspected hazardous agents on site.

“We make a large effort to get to know many of those local authorities throughout the state as possible,” said James.

“One of the things that they are able to gain here is working with additional state and federal forces as well as civil authorities,” said Taylor. “It’s more of the concept of the joint operation with the multiple agencies involved and how they would work with them in a real event.”

On their arrival at the exercise, the CST immediately set up their operation area. They readied their medical truck, analysis lab truck and communication equipment. They put up a decontamination tent and an operations tent.

A two-member survey team carefully checked and donned “Saratoga” chemical suits and self-contained breathing systems to enter the mock chemical hazard area evaluators had laid out for them.

The survey team then combed through Leschi Town looking for hazardous agents with their detectors and radioed in information pertinent to responders including the location of mock civilians needing medical attention and extraction. Exercise officials reported 77 mock deaths in this scenario with more than 1,800 injured.

James said such exercises test the team’s readiness to respond to actual emergencies, including actions on-site like collecting information, analyzing, conducting operations and working with the community.

“They are all things we need to continually rehearse to stay proficient,” he said.

Air Guard Security Forces assisted Katrina survivors

By Staff Sgt. Mike R. Smith
Guard Times Staff

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Scotia — Just after Hurricane Katrina lined up in the Atlantic Ocean to pulverize the Gulf Coast with its wind, rain, and tidal flooding, New York’s Security Forces Airmen made their lineup for New Orleans Sept. 3 to protect and serve the rescue and relief operations.

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