National Guard February 2012 : Page 40
STATE ROUNDUP Great Dig Out Guardsmen grab shovels and help Alaska community buried under historic snowfall HE NATIONAL GUARD of-ten provides help and relief to communities across the coun-try that have been hit by snowstorms or blizzards beyond the norm. So, imagine what the weather must be like to require a call for the Alaska T | National Guard. That’s what happened in Cordova last month when Guardsmen were de-ployed to the small coastal hamlet on the Gulf of Alaska. Since December, the town has been buried by more than 18 feet of snow. Meteorologists believe that the town could get a record-breaking amount of accumulation by the end of the sea-son—more than 560 inches. That’s more than 45 feet. The snow virtually shut down Cor-dova’s municipal airport, the main method of transportation into the town. And an avalanche closed down the 12-mile Copper River Highway that connects the airport to the town itself. In early January, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell called the National Guard to Cordova to augment the city’s snow removal efforts, which were already pushed to maximum capacity. “Alaska has signiﬁcant challenges and the National Guard has the man-power, skill and equipment to meet those demands and quickly respond in support of civilian authorities when called upon,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. 40 Na tional Guard
Great Dig Out
Guardsmen grab shovels and help Alaska community buried under historic snowfall
THE NATIONAL GUARD often provides help and relief to communities across the country that have been hit by snowstorms or blizzards beyond the norm.
So, imagine what the weather must be like to require a call for the Alaska National Guard.
That’s what happened in Cordova last month when Guardsmen were deployed to the small coastal hamlet on the Gulf of Alaska.
Since December, the town has been buried by more than 18 feet of snow Meteorologists believe that the town could get a record-breaking amount of accumulation by the end of the season— more than 560 inches. That’s more than 45 feet.
The snow virtually shut down Cordova’s municipal airport, the main method of transportation into the town. And an avalanche closed down the 12-mile Copper River Highway that connects the airport to the town itself.
In early January, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell called the National Guard to Cordova to augment the city’s snow removal efforts, which were already pushed to maximum capacity.
“Alaska has significant challenges and the National Guard has the manpower, skill and equipment to meet those demands and quickly respond in support of civilian authorities when called upon,” said Maj. Gen. ThomasH. Katkus, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.
Alaska National Guardsmen use shovels big and small to clear drifting snow from around and on top of a building in remote Cordova, Alaska.
The city’s remote location made the operation a challenge. With the town not accessible by air or land, the Guard had to find another way into town.
On Jan. 10, several dozen Guardsmen arrived to Cordova with shovels in hand by the only transportation option available—the state’s ferry system, according to Capt. Chad Ausel, the commander of the 761st Military Police Company.
“As soon as we got here, we identified a priority list for safety and familiarization training with Cordova. We asked for a subject matter expert on how they’ve cleared snow here safely and then completed training on harnesses, ropes and knots to make sure the Guardsmen are trained to do the mission safely,” Ausel said.
Ausel’s teams were soon deployed across Cordova providing snow removal services. Many buildings were in danger of collapsing under the weight of the snow.
A chance of rain also threatened to add weight to the already-heavy snow, said Allen Marquette, public information officer with the city of Cordova.
“We hope to leave Cordova in a better situation,” Ausel said. “If that means staying here until the next snowstorm goes through, then we will. They are working with a sense of urgency and are very proud to serve the community down here. This is why they signed up to serve in the National Guard.”
News footage from the event showed Guardsmen using everything from hand shovels to large excavation equipment to move and remove snow.Some snow mounds surpassed 20 feet in height.
Snowy conditions had subsided enough by mid-January to reopen schools and other municipal departments, according to the Cordova website.
Snow damage to buildings left several families without long-term housing.For the most part, however, snow removal efforts were successful.
Cordova officials were appreciative.
“I can’t say how impressed I am with the homeland-security response, the governor’s office response and now the National Guard is stepping up to the plate,” Mayor Jim Kallander said.“It’s exactly what we needed.”
Leaving Iraq: ‘Surreal’ Convoy Takes Guardsmen into History
In the early morning hours of Dec. 18, a small group of soldiers from the 1452nd Transportation Company rode into history as the final military convoy To depart Iraq.
“It was just surreal,” said Sgt. Alan DuBois. “I was actually on the very last mission out of Iraq.”
For many of the North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers, the roads of Iraq and Kuwait are familiar.
The unit deployed from 2004 to 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning 30 Bronze Star Medals.
“I’m so thankful that we made it through two tours,” Sgt. 1st Class Antuane Simmons said. “Being on the last convoy was important to me because it means that we made sure that all of our brothers and sisters in uniform made it safely back home.”
The soldiers had been conducting numerous convoys between Iraq and The soldiers had been conducting numerous convoys between Iraq and
“When we left [Contingency Operating Base] Adder, I looked in the side mirrors,” Pfc. Jordan Miller said.“Where there would normally be soldiers and lights, there was nothing.When we reached K-Crossing [the Khabari Al Awazem Crossing], it wasn’t a transition point. It was now the site for a conclusion.”
When Sgt. Schjuana Suggs passed through K-Crossing, she couldn’t help but feel as though a major chapter in her military career had just closed. She enlisted on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“After I enlisted, I went to a holding room where I saw the planes crash into the Twin Towers on TV,” she said. “I’m happy to be one of the ones closing Iraq.It’s definitely an accomplishment for me.”
Firefighter Living His Dream Far From Familiar Territory
The call comes in and Sgt. Max Stoltenburg has five minutes to suit up as a firefighter and get to the scene. There Is a hazardous material spill near a construction zone.
But the construction zone is pretty far away from his normal fire station in Sturgis, S.D.
It’s a site in Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, where Stoltenburg and his fellow firefighters from the 451st Engineering Detachment Firefighting Team provide fire protection for U.S. assets.
The unit arrived in October as part of a yearlong deployment. This is the first time Stoltenburg has deployed to Afghanistan in his nine-year career in the South Dakota Army National Guard.
Afghanistan is a far cry from putting out blazes in the Black Hills, but no matter where he serves, fighting fires is what Stoltenburg loves to do.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do as a kid. I know you hear that a lot.It’s more about wanting to protect your community that you live in and do something for them,” Stoltenburg said.
Before deploying to Afghanistan, Stoltenburg worked for Aberdeen Fire Rescue in South Dakota as a deputy fire marshal. It’s a job he started last April and will continue when he returns.
Until then, Stoltenburg and the rest of his unit not only will be on call to fight fires, they will be imparting their skills and knowledge to the Afghan National Army.
“It feels good that while we’re over here, we’re leaving our footprint on another fire department,” he said.
High Achiever: Guam Airman Captures Top Air Force Awards
A member of the Guam Air National Guard continues to set the standard and show her Air Force counterparts what an airman from Guam can accomplish.
Tech. Sgt. Maria Quitugua was recently selected as one of the recipients of the 2011 Air Force Outstanding Security Forces Individual Award. She is also the 2011 Air Force Reserve Component Non-Commissioned Officer of Tech. Sgt. Maria Quitugua was recently selected as one of the recipients of the 2011 Air Force Outstanding Security Forces Individual Award. She is also the 2011 Air Force Reserve Component Non-Commissioned Officer of
Only a few weeks earlier, she was named the Air National Guard Security Forces NCO of the Year, after a competition in which she faced representatives from Air Guard nationwide.
Her accomplishments have Maj.Gen. Benny M. Paulino, the Guam adjutant general, beaming.
“We are very proud and honored that we have a person, a member of the Guam National Guard, that can compete at the national level and win. We are very, very proud of her accomplishments,” he said.
But these weren’t Quitugua’s first major awards.
In 2006, she was selected as the 36th Mission Support Group Federal Woman of the Year, the 36th Wing Airman of the Quarter and the United States Organization Guardsman of the Year.
In 2007, she was Guam’s Airman Of the Year, the Pacific Air Force Total Force Outstanding Airman of the Year, and the Air Force Security Forces Air Reserve Component Airman of the Year.
Sixth Guard Aviation Battalion Transitions to Apache Longbow
The 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation, began the new year last month with a rollout ceremony which officially marked the unit’s transition to the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter.
The Missouri Army National Guard unit is part of the state’s 35th Combat Aviation Brigade.
“What a great day for the attack battalion and for the CAB as a whole,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, the Missouri adjutant general, at the event Jan. 8 in the battalion’s hanger on Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
Col. Shane Openshaw, the Army Apache program manager, added that it was hard to believe that three years ago, this battalion had no plan, no money and no direction where it was going from the older A-model Apaches.
“Team Apache is strong today,” he said, “but it’s getting stronger tomorrow.”
A highlight of the event was the exchanging of the AH-64D logbook, which signifies the transfer of the aircraft.
David Koopersmith, the vice president of the Boeing attack-helicopter program, presented the logbook to Openshaw.
Openshaw passed it onto Danner, who gave it to Col. Mark McLemore, the CAB commander, who presented it to Lt. Col. James Schreffler, the attack battalion commander.
Schreffler then tossed the key to Lt.Col. Thomas Burson, the Army Aviation Support Facility commander, as the manager of the flying hour program and maintenance of the aircraft.
The last A-model Apache left Whiteman Air Force Base on Jan. 10.The battalion is on schedule to have all 24 of its new D models by this spring.It is one of eight Army Guard Apache battalions and the sixth to convert to the Longbow.
Training Helps Guardsman Nab Suspects After Robbery
A military policeman with the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade credits his training for helping him subdue three teenagers who are being charged with robbing a man at a Chicago Transit Authority station last month.
Spc. Paville Simpson was on his way to his job as a security guard when he heard a man on the station platform talking by phone with emergency dispatchers, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.
The man told of being robbed of his iPhone and described the suspects as teenagers.Simpson recalled seeing three teens on his way to the platform.
“I just thought of my training,” the Illinois Army National Guard soldier told the newspaper.
Simpson raced back upstairs and saw the three teens. He handcuffed two of them and chased a third.
The third teen pulled what Simpson Thought was a weapon, so he drew the gun he is allowed to carry in his security guard job. He said the teen shouted, “Please don’t shoot me. It’s a lighter,” and then ignited the tiny flame.
“I said to him, ‘You could have been shot,’” Simpson said.
The three teens were charged with felony attempted robbery. One was charged with aggravated assault.
Adjutant General Selected as 2011 ‘Vermonter of the Year’
The largest newspaper in Vermont has named Maj. Gen. Mike Dubie, the state’s adjutant general, as the Vermonter of the Year.
In announcing the honor in print Jan. 1, the Burlington Free Press said it wanted to honor the entire Vermont National Guard, so it chose Dubie as the force’s representative.
The response of the Guard to Tropical Storm Irene in late August prompted the award. The newspaper noted that many civilians were included on the team that helped thousands of citizens in the wake of the historic storm by searching for the missing, delivering supplies and beginning the reconstruction of critical infrastructure.
But the Guard was also busy elsewhere when Gov. Peter Shumlin called 500 members of the force to duty.
The newspaper wrote, “We are especially mindful that this activation is in addition to Air Guard deployments to Norway and Korea, ongoing Vermont National Guard missions in Djibouti, Kosovo, Macedonia and Senegal, helicopter rescues in Iraq—all in 2011—and following the major activation to Afghanistan in 2010.
“We can choose only one person, however, as Vermonter of the Year.Because so many people did so much, the selection committee found it hard to identify a single individual to recognize.So we choose Maj. Gen Michael Dubie to honor them all.”
Read the full article at http://nationalguardmagazine.com/article/State+Roundup/956547/97952/article.html.