Sept. 6, 2011

Virginia National Guard Soldiers prepare for duty in Vermont

By Cotton Puryear      
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

BLACKSTONE, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers completed administrative paperwork and conducted vehicle maintenance checks at Fort Pickett, Sept. 5, to prepare for duty in Vermont. The Virginia Guard is sending approximately 20 Soldiers and six 20-ton dump trucks to Vermont to assist with clean up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon is providing the personnel and dump trucks, and the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company will also provide a maintenance team and support vehicle.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers complete administrative paperwork and conduct maintenance checks on 20-ton dump trucks, Sept. 5 at Fort Pickett in preparation for moving the vehicles to Vermont. The Virginia Guard is preparing to send approximately 25 Soldiers and six 20-ton dump trucks to Vermont to assist with clean up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon is providing the personnel and dump trucks, and the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company will also provide a maintenance team and support vehicle. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from preparations.

UPDATE! Click HERE to see photos of the Soldiers hauling gravel in Vermont

“My guys are really excited,” said 1st Lt. Bryan Hicks, commander of the 157th Engineer Platoon. “It was short notice, but in 24 hours we were here and ready to go. This reinforces the idea of being a citizen-Soldier. We are citizens first, but we are also Soldiers and know at any moment we can get the call whether it is for stateside duty or overseas.”

The Soldiers arrived at Fort Pickett, Sept. 5, to prepare for the mission and are scheduled to depart, Sept. 6. The mission could last up to 30 days. Of the approximately 25 Soldiers going on the mission, six are from the Blackstone and Nottoway County area, four are from the Roanoke and Southwest Virginia area, four are from the Richmond area and the others are from various locations across the state.

“The Virginia National Guard is a vital part of the emergency response team here in the Commonwealth, and the men and women of the Guard did an outstanding job working with the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency response organizations in the initial response to Hurricane Irene under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Daniel Long, the Adjutant General of Virginia,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. “Now they are going to put their skill and experience to work assisting Vermont with their clean up effort, and I hope there is some comfort to those impacted by the severe weather that there is a system in place where states can reach out to their neighbors for assistance during their time of need. It is the right thing to do, and we can offer assistance while at the same time making sure we have the necessary resources here at home if they are needed.”

Vermont made the request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and Long approved the request to provide the personnel and equipment.

“This is exactly how the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system is supposed to work,” Long said. “When a state needs additional capability to assist in a time of need, they can reach out to other states to provide that capability. We are glad to be able to assist the citizens of Vermont with their clean up effort. I am sure they would do the same thing for us.”

Long said that requests for out of state assistance are reviewed to make sure that the Virginia Guard can provide the requested level of support out state but also still be able to provide assistance to the citizens of the Commonwealth if needed. “We are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Katia, and we still have enough engineer capability here in Virginia to provide assistance should it be necessary,” Long said.

The 157th Engineer Platoon’s primary mission is to provide crushed stone for the Virginia Guard’s Maneuver Training Center at Fort Pickett, but the Soldiers have a wide variety of engineer skills. Many of the Soldiers in the platoon have deployed to Iraq.

Virginia National Guard engineers last traveled out of state in May 2010 when Soldiers from the Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion assisted with West Virginia’s flood recovery operations. Approximately 30 Soldiers from the 1033rd arrived in West Virginia, May 18, to assist with debris removal and other clean up operations and returned home, June 6.

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