Guam’s signal specialists can deliver island’s disaster messages

It’s not just delivering the message, it’s also delivering it to the right people from the right place at the right time. And that’s not so easy after a major disaster where hundreds of emergency responders communicate recovery efforts.

Although the U.S. Territory of Guam encompasses only 212 square miles, its high peaks and mountains can make normal emergency communications impossible. Disaster response experts here say the Guam Army National Guard’s communications and signal specialists are an invaluable asset to the island during emergencies.

Communications experts including Army Spc. Angeles Dacaney, a radio operator and maintainer from the Guam Army National Guard’s 105th Troop Command, were busy, Sept. 14, 2008, supporting a Navy exercise on the island as well as working in the National Guard Bureau’s homeland security exercise Vigilant Guard.


Iowa Guard civil support team pulls poisons from flood waters

Although terrorists are not responsible for the rain waters flooding the Midwest, at least one National Guard counterterrorism unit was wet and waist-deep in a battle here to protect their communities.

Tapping into their emergency support knowledge, the Iowa National Guard’s 22 citizen-soldiers and -airmen of the 71st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team have waded through the state’s flood waters since June 16 to help officials assess chemicals and other potentially hazardous materials floating through their towns and cities.

Nearly 6,000 National Guard members have assisted civil authorities and responded to call-outs by their governors in five states for the destructive and record-setting Midwest floods since early June.


Guard Soldiers, Earnhardt join up at NASCAR event

Hours before his seventh-place start and a fourth-place finish in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway June 9, Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked fresh and rested as he visited National Guard members at an infield area.

Earnhardt, dressed in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, took 15 minutes out of his busy race day for an exclusive interview with The On Guard, the National Guard’s official newspaper, and to sign a few autographs and hang out with 18 new enlistees in the Pennsylvania Army Guard.

Then he climbed into the blue and white No. 88 National Guard Chevy Impala to endure the heat of competition under the watchful eyes of thousands of his military and civilian fans.


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.


Last Colorado Air National Guard MIA laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery

The remains of Colorado Air National Guard Maj. Perry H. Jefferson, who vanished during an observation flight 39 years ago over the jungles of South Vietnam, was at last laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Three days of events here were a high-profile attempt to put closure to a missing-in-action mystery, but what exactly happened to the intelligence officer and his Army Reserve pilot, then-1st Lt. Arthur Ecklund, during their fateful observation flight may never be known.


Earnhardt gears up to drive Guard-sponsored cars

As he drives its sponsored race cars at NASCAR’s top auto racing competitions this year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes to learn more about the National Guard.

“It’s going to be a year-long introduction of myself to the Guard (and) how I can be an asset to them,” Earnhardt said here Jan. 23.

With the 2008 NASCAR auto racing season less than a month from its first competitive laps, Earnhardt said he has hopes for a successful racing season with a new lineup of team members and sponsors, including the National Guard.


New York Air Guard supports far-reaching science missions

CAMP SUMMIT, Greenland — The gray and orange LC-130 Hercules, one of the world’s largest cargo aircraft with skis, touched down 10,600 feet above sea level onto the frozen ice sheet here July 24, continuing an airlift mission that serves as the only supply line for some of the world’s leading scientists studying our planet.

After circling the Arctic outpost to view the airfield’s conditions, the aircraft landed inside a row of bamboo poles with black nylon flags that marked a “ski-way” and gently slid to a stop like an overloaded dump truck hydroplaning down an icy highway.


Missouri Guard airlifts near North Pole

The author, Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith, photojournalist for the National Guard Bureau, embeds with the Missouri Air National Guard during airlift operations at Kulusuk Airport, Greenland, July 25, 2007. 


They have deployed and airlifted cargo around the world, but never above the Arctic Circle. This was the farthest north they had ever flown, they said.

Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing deployed to the world’s largest island — Greenland — from July 23 to 27 to support airlift missions for the National Science Foundation and the New York Air Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing.


Defense secretary recognizes Guard’s Katrina response

ARLINGTON, Va. — Donald Rumsfeld, during his final week as secretary of defense, recognized Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal on Dec. 13 for the “amazing response of the National Guard” following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.


Purple Heart Hall of Honor opens [Repost]

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

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. – Thousands of people, including members of the National Guard, gathered under a bright autumn sun here Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day, to dedicate a lasting tribute to the nation’s recipient of the Purple Heart Medal.

Active duty, Guard and Reserve members, past and present combat veterans and their families, and political dignitaries gathered to dedicate the $6.5 million National Purple Heart Hall of Honor with patriotic speeches, traditional music, tours, a ribbon-cutting, and a fly-over by Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters.