Aug. 28, 2011

Virginia National Guard Soldiers use chainsaws to open road, free trapped motorists

By Cotton Puryear  
Virginia Department of MilitaryAffairs

SANDSTON, Va. Virginia National Guard Soldiers used chainsaws to open a path for 10 motorists trapped after fallen trees blocked them in both directions and left them trapped for more than seven hours on Route 5 near the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers use chain saws to open a path for 10 motorists trapped after fallen trees blocked them in both directions and left them trapped for more than seven hours on Route 5 near the Richmond National Battlefield Park. In the early morning hours of Aug. 28, Virginia Guard engineers from the Bowling Green-based 189th Engineer Company and the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company were able to cut the large tree into small sections, then move a section out of the road that was large enough to let the vehicles pass through. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the rescue.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 28, Virginia Guard engineers from the Bowling Green-based 189th Engineer Company and the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company were able to cut the large tree into small sections, then move a section out of the road that was large enough to let the vehicles pass through.

"I think my guys did fantastic," said Sgt. Jason Foster, the mission leader for the 11-Soldier team and Virginia Beach native. "They've had the best training, and it showed."

Foster admitted that he didn't have a great deal of experience when it came to tree removal, but many of his Soldiers did and offered their advice for finding a solution to open up the road. "We worked together as a team and that completed the mission," he said.

Being able to assist the stranded motorists was a great feeling, Foster said. "I felt like I was part of something bigger than I expected. This was a great day for me," he said.

The Soldiers were on duty helping Virginia State Police clear fallen trees along I-85 near Petersburg after positioning in Sandston since Friday. The Virginia National Guard moved approximately 325 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force to staging areas across the commonwealth Aug. 26 in preparation for possible duty for recovery operations related to Hurricane Irene.

As of Saturday afternoon, personnel were ready for duty in Virginia Guard facilities in Bowling Green, Emporia and Sandston as well as being co-located with Virginia State Police personnel in the Eastern Shore Region of Virginia near Onancock. Personnel are also on duty at the Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center in Sandston providing command and control and logistical support. The Virginia Guard has been authorized to bring as many as 500 personnel on state active duty to support Hurricane Irene operations. Additional forces have been alerted for possible duty after the storm passes through Virginia but have not actually begun staging and are on standby.

Click HERE to return to the top of the page ~ Click HERE to return to the news directory