Magazine article Army

Floods, Fires and Storms Kept Guard Very Busy

Magazine article Army

Floods, Fires and Storms Kept Guard Very Busy

Article excerpt

The Army National Guard capped one of its busiest years in recent memory, meeting the demands of an unrelenting string of floods, fires and storms that saw more than 19,000 soldiers activated and deployed for rescue, relief and recovery missions.

As 2017 came to a close, adding to the mission was a dangerous wildfire season that still had California Army National Guard soldiers on duty in Southern California, on top of regularly scheduled deployments where Guard members supported ongoing operations and maintained vital international partnerships through continuing relationships with 79 nations.

The demanding year served as a reminder of the vital role the National Guard plays in U.S. defense and security.

"The National Guard provided indispensable help in domestic emergencies and disasters in a year when three Category 5 hurricanes struck. In the Gulf Coast, in Florida, in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Guard was there- often before the storm struck-to provide support, rescue, food and comfort," said retired Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army. "That same level of effort was on display in the Guard helping fight multiple wildfires in Western states this summer," he added, noting that the effort was ongoing in California where thousands of Guard members provided "aid and support, fighting fires, aiding law enforcement and helping people move their belongings."

"There can be no doubt of the value of the National Guard to local communities, to their state and region, and to the national security of our nation," Ham said.

The year also marked the Army National Guard's 381st birthday. Born on Dec. 13, 1636, the National Guard came to be when the first militia were organized into permanent regiments. Since that formation, they've been called on for a variety of duties.

The 2017 hurricane season officially ended Nov. 30, but National Guard members were still working in Puerto Rico to help restore power and other services, and were expected to work there for months.

Between August and September, tens of thousands of citizen-soldiers from dozens of states were activated, some on overlapping deployments, for rescue and relief duty in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

At the peak of operations in response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, more than 19,000 members of the Guard from 27 states were on duty conducting search and rescue, providing general support to local government officials and distributing basic life-support commodities.

In response to Hurricane Irma in Florida, close to 18,000 Guard members from 24 states were on duty across the state on missions focused on sheltering operations, law enforcement support, search and rescue, evacuations, route clearance and commodities distribution.

Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is ongoing, with more than 2,500 Guard members still activated and focused on route clearance, food and water distribution, search and rescue, evacuation, law enforcement support and shelter resupply. Some 400 Guard members in Puerto Rico from other states returned home Dec. 15.

As of December, more than 18 million meals and 53 million bottles of water had been distributed in Puerto Rico alone, according to data from the National Guard Bureau.

Units involved in response to all three hurricanes included engineers, aviation, medical, combat support, public affairs, military police, transportation, communications and an infantry brigade combat team.

4th ID Soldiers Donate Their Medals of Honor

Medal ofHonor recipients retired Capt. Florent Groberg and former StaffSgt. Clinton Romesha donated their original medals to the 4th Infantry Division, the division with which they were each serving in Afghanistan when their courageous actions in battle took place.

At the division's headquarters at Fort Carson, Colo., Groberg donated the medals on behalf of both soldiers during a Dec. …

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