Feb. 7, 2010

Virginia Guardsmen, Luray Fire Department team up for rescue effort

By Capt. David Garner
3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team

LURAY, Va. — Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team and volunteer firefighters from Company 1, Luray Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched Feb. 6 to aid a family in Rileyville who were stranded in their home without power following a winter storm that hit Virginia on Feb. 5. 

  Virginia Soldiers help rescsue stranded family

Spc. Sean Wheeler prepares a young girl for the move down the hill by securely placing her in his rucksack Feb. 6 in Rileyville, Va. Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team and volunteer firefighters from Company 1, Luray Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched Feb. 6 to aid a family who were stranded in their home without power following a winter storm that hit Virginia on Feb. 5. (Photo by Sgt. Derek Braswell, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

The combined Luray Fire Department and Virginia Army National Guard team arrived on the scene at Route 340 and Steep Hollow Road at approximately 11:30 p.m. After a quick assessment, they realized that the home of the family that needed assistance was in a remote location on top of a steep hill. 

Snow plows and National Guard Humvees attempted to traverse the hill, but both were unsuccessful.  However, that did not stop a team of two firefighters, Lt. Derek Gaunt and firefighter Phillip Good, and two Army National Guard Soldiers, Sgt. Derek Braswell and Spc. Sean Wheeler, from completing their mission. The four-person team made the mile-long hike up Steep Hollow Road in over 30 inches of snow to reach the residence. 

When they arrived at the house, the team quickly prepared the two adults and two young children for movement back down the hill. The children were transported down the hill on the backs of the team members in U.S. Army rucksacks, large backpacks used to carry Soldiers' gear. During the descent down the hill, the team took turns carrying the children. 

After safely arriving at the bottom of the hill the family was put in Humvees and moved to a local shelter.

The Virginia Department of Military Affairs had more than 500 personnel from the Virginia Army and Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force on duty at key locations in the commonwealth to assist state and local emergency services organizations respond to the winter weather that hit Virginia Feb. 5.

  Virginia Soldiers help rescsue stranded family

Sgt. Derek Braswell transports a young girl in his rucksack as Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assist Luray firefighters in aiding a family who were stranded in their home without power following a winter storm that hit Virginia on Feb. 5.   (Photo by Spc. Sean Wheeler, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

This is the third time since the middle of December the DMA has put personnel on weather-related duty. The DMA had nearly 250 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond and throughout Southern Virginia providing assistance with transportation, evacuation and rescue operations and general support to state and local emergency response organizations in response to a winter storm that hit the Commonwealth Jan. 29.

The DMA had nearly 700 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on state active duty to assist state and local authorities with the response to a major winter storm that began Dec. 18, 2009. Soldiers and Airmen were on duty along the I-81 corridor from Winchester to Danville, and also conducted support operations in Lynchburg, Stafford and Charlottesville. Soldiers continued to operate in the Southwest Virginia area through Dec. 24.

The Virginia Department of Military Affairs plans, coordinates, maintains situational awareness and employ forces for homeland security and homeland defense in order to respond to any incidents with the Commonwealth.  On order of the Governor, the Department of Military Affairs will provide capabilities to assist civil authorities in protecting life and property, preserving peace, order and public safety.  The Virginia Defense Force, the Virginia Air National Guard and the Virginia Army National Guard all fall under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs.

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