Jan. 10, 2010

Virginia Guard supports winter storm recovery efforts

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs
and
Maj. Nevin Blankenship
116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine authorized members of the Virginia Guard for state active duty to assist state and local authorities with the response to a major winter storm that began Dec. 18, 2009. At the peak of the response, the Virginia Guard had nearly 700 Soldiers and Airmen 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.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Charlottesville-based Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assist rescued motorists with boarding a Humvee for transportation from Monticello Station 11 of the Albemarle Fire and Rescue Department to a shelter established at the University of Virginia Aquatics Center. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard) Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

The Virginia Guard conducted a variety of missions including rescuing stranded motorists, delivering food, water and blankets to shelters and snow-bound homes, providing ambulances to the sick and injured, transporting health care professionals to hospitals, conducting door to door checks on the health and welfare of residents and delivering crews to repair downed power lines in the remote regions of Virginia.

Soldiers from the Staunton-based Headquarters, 116th Brigade Combat Team assisted with the transport of more than 30 stranded motorists along mile markers 175 to 195 along I-81, assisted with establishing and operating a shelter in Rockbridge County, transported more than 15 nurses and doctors to hospital facilities and assisted with multiple vehicle recoveries.

Soldiers from South Boston-based Company A, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team rescued nearly 20 stranded motorists along Routes 29, 151, 722, 117 and 6, conducted search and rescue missions along Afton Mountain Road and Stage Bridge Road.

 

First Sergeant James Hildreth of the Fredericksburg-based Company D, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team supervises the tow of a Stafford Fire and Rescue Ambulance Dec. 21. The Virginia National Guard has Soldiers on state active duty in order to assist state and local agencies in response to severe winter weather across the state. (Contributed photo) Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

Soldiers from the Charlottesville-based Company C, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assisted with transporting approximately 35 citizens to shelters, transported 168 gallons of water and 350 heater meals to Lexington, delivered 100 blankets to a shelter in Nelson County and assisted with patient transport from Standardsville to a local hospital.

Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based Company E, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assisted with sheltering operations in Lexington, delivered supplies to a shelter in Rockbridge County and assisted with transporting rescued motorists stranded along I-81.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Harrisonburg-based Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team assist a citizen dig his vehicle out of the snow in Rockbridge County Dec. 21. The Virginia National Guard has Soldiers on state active duty in order to assist state and local agencies in response to severe winter weather across the state. (Contributed photo) Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

Soldiers from the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (also with Soldiers from Woodstock, and Harrisonburg) assisted local authorities with recovering stranded motorists

Soldiers from the Fredricksburg-based Company D, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team operated in the Stafford area where they rescued a first responder from a vehicle stuck in a ditch, transported medical professionals and assisted with the recovery of six ambulances and a fire truck.

Soldiers from the Leesburg-based Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team operated in the Leesburg area assisting in the movement of key personnel to critical facilities.

Soldiers from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Battalion, 183rd Cavalry Regiment conducted water distribution missions in Southwest Virginia.

Soldiers from the Hampton-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment assisted citizens in Augusta County.

Soldiers from the Gate City-based 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group assisted with transporting rescued stranded motorists to shelters in Clintwood and Norton, and conducted search and rescue mission in the Flatwoods National Forest. Soldiers also delivered food and water and conducted door-to-door checks on health and welfare in Wise County and operated water distribution points in Dickenson County.

Airmen from the Virginia Beach-based 203d RED HORSE Civil Engineering Squadron transported cots to Wise County.

The efforts of the Virginia Guard earned high praise from the emergency response organizations they supported.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Richmond-based Company B, 429th Brigade Support Battalion use a heavy wrecker Dec. 20 to assist a tractor-trailer truck out of the snow in Charlottesville. The Virginia National Guard has Soldiers on state active duty in order to assist state and local agencies in response to severe winter weather across the state. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard) Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos.

“The group of Guardsmen who were stationed at the command post were the best group of people I have ever worked for, they were helpful, and a great group of men and women.  Each and every one of them,” said Raymond Uttaro, Nelson County Emergency Services Coordinator.

“There was 20 inches of snow and trees down everywhere across the road.  The governor had declared a state of emergency and I had asked them to call the National Guard to go out there.  I figured their equipment would be a whole lot better than what we had,” said Scott County Sheriff John Puckett in response to a vehicle rescue mission.

“We have the Humvees here now from the National Guard to assist us in getting into places, and they’ve been of great assistance to us,” said Waynesboro Fire Department Capt. Kenny Hayden.

Despite the deep snow, cold temperatures and long duty hours, Virginia National Guard Soldiers were glad to have the chance to help their fellow citizens.

“It was exciting.  This was my first National Guard emergency operation.  I like the experience of helping people out.  It was a good way to show people that we are there for them,” said Pfc. Minh Tien Nguyen of Company D, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment.

“That’s why a lot of people join the National Guard instead of the regular Army to stick close to home and help protect their neighbors and families and that’s what we do,” said Sgt. Shaun Gnoffo of 3rd Battalion.

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