July 27, 2005
By Maj. Cotton Puryear
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard are working as part of Joint Task Force-National Scout Jamboree to help accomplish the mission of ensuring a safe and secure Jamboree environment for all attending the event from July 25 through Aug. 3, 2005.
Army officials estimate the 2005 Jamboree will be attended by more than 42,000 Boy Scouts, troop leaders, volunteers and professional staff members, as well as more than 270,000 visitors over the 10-day event. Based on these numbers, about 1,800 Soldiers from the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, along with approximately 200 members of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard will support the event.
If the Jamboree site were an actual city, it would be considered the seventh largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Most of the services normally associated with the operation of a city this large will be available during the Jamboree, and maintaining security is one of the top priorities for Jamboree organizers.
Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard are playing a key role in security as well as logistical support. Military police from Virginia’s 229th MP Company are assisting with security at entrance gates, staffing traffic control points and conducting roving patrols, said Capt. Tanya Seymore, commander of the 229th. In addition, the 1710th Transportation Company has provided transportation support.
When President George W. Bush attends the opening day arena show on July 27, Virginia Guard Soldiers will be augmenting the massive security effort in place for the event. “Our Soldiers are very excited,” Seymore said. “It isn’t every day you get to be on the security detail for the president.”
Airmen from the Virginia Air Guard’s 200th Weather Flight are scheduled to be one of 28 merit badge teams supporting Merit Badge Midway where Scouts can earn or make progress on a wide variety of merit badges.
While walking patrol in the Army Adventure Area, Sgt. April Cordell of the 229th MP Company said she had already made seven calls for medical assistance for Scouts who had succumbed to the grueling heat. It is the interaction with the Scouts that Cordell said has been the highlight of supporting the Jamboree.
“Our reception here has been extremely positive,” Cordell said. “The Scouts love hearing stories about where we have been and what we do. Everywhere we go, Scouts and leaders are offering us water or trying to give us things.”
Cordell said her unit insignia patch and Jamboree support patch also caught the attention of Scouts who are always on the lookout for new and different patches to trade.
The work the military police personnel are doing at the Jamboree are very similar to the kind of work civilian law enforcement might see on the job. “We are doing a lot of interacting with people, being alert and watching what people are doing,” she said. “That is very similar to the kinds of things you might do on patrol as a beat cop.”
Soldiers from Virginia’s 229th Chemical Company have also been on hand providing logistical support as well as assisting with security missions. Seymore said that Soldiers from her unit started four months before the Jamboree began with training Soldiers from the chemical company in critical military police tasks like running a traffic control point.
The Jamboree support mission has been a way for Soldiers from the chemical company to help their fellow Soldiers. According to Capt. Thuy Dang, the unit commander, in addition to helping with missions like vehicle searches and guarding displays in the Army Adventure Area, Soldiers from the 229th Chemical have taken on the very important role of supplying water and ice resupply to the traffic control points.
Originally the resupply effort was just to support the water needs of the Soldiers at the traffic control points, but the volume of support needed changed with the grueling heat. “The traffic control points were running out of water very quickly because the Scouts discovered they could get water, and we wanted to do everything we could to assist them,” he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Norman Ferguson of the 229th Chemical Company estimated he had delivered about 75 bags of ice in an eight hour shift.
Maj. Gen. John A. Yingling, First U.S. Army’s Deputy Commanding General and the Joint Task Force-National Scout Jamboree Commander for this year’s event, stated in his welcome letter to the troops supporting the Jamboree to “take advantage of this opportunity to train, and make a difference in young people’s lives.” That philosophy is shared by the Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard, Maj. Gen. Claude A. Williams.
“Supporting the Jamboree is important for two reasons,” Williams said. “First, it is the right thing to do. Anything we can do to support an organization that is strengthening the moral fiber of our kids is something we should be doing. Second, it is good for us to be out in the public, doing our jobs and showcasing what we can do and what have to offer.”
Williams visited Soldiers on July 27, and found them to be enthusiastic and upbeat. “These Soldiers are enthused about the mission and enthused about working with these young people,” Williams said. “Even the hot weather hasn’t dampened their spirits. There is a lot of job satisfaction in what they are doing.”
The Jamboree mission gives the Guard a chance to connect with the people they serve, Williams said. “This is another way we can connect with hometown America. This is where our Soldiers come from, so it is good for us to be here in a place to be of service to them.”
While many of the Jamborees attendees are too young to join the Virginia Guard or any of the other services supporting the event, Williams said it is an opportunity for making a lasting positive impression. “It could very well plant the seed for a military career in their future,” he said.