Hurricane Katrina Support ~ Virginia National Guard
The Virginia National Guard has deployed public affairs personnel along with the units providing support for relief operations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This page contains links to the stories and photos being produced by these forward deployed National Guard journalists.

Task Force Commonwealth hits the streets of the Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Victims of Hurricane Katrina were pleasantly surprised when 40 members of Task Force Commonwealth entered their Jefferson Parrish neighborhood in the New Orleans, La. suburb of Kenner on Oct. 6, 2005. Soldiers of the 429th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Battalion, 246th  Field Artillery and 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry canvassed the area looking for residents who needed assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of residents recently returned to their homes to assess the damage and salvage what they could. Many of them found themselves helpless as huge trees and mounds of debris made it difficult for them to get a handle on what to do next; that is until Task Force Commonwealth came to town.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted October 10, 2005

Virginia Guard distributes water and food in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Members of a public health care team from the Virginia National Guard distributed water and food to citizens and military personnel in the New Orleans area on Oct. 5. As people began to move back into the areas of the city damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, they could be exposed to a number of different health hazards.

Health care professionals from the Virginia Air Guard and Army Guard were in the area to offer advice for staying healthy under those conditions. In addition, other Soldiers and Airmen of Task Force Commonwealth prepared for new missions for distributing bulk commodity items in areas where local officials feel they are needed most.

Click HERE to see more photos.

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Posted October 6, 2005

Task Force Cardinal returns home from hurricane relief operations

LAKE CHARLES , La. -- “Who wants to go home?”

An enormous cry of “Hooah!” erupted from the formation at 1st Sgt. Daryl Plude’s question. 

After three weeks of being deployed to Louisiana in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 229th Military Police Company and the 192nd Security Forces Squadron had just been informed they were heading back home to Virginia.

For several days, the Virginia Air and Army National Guardsmen were on standby, as local law enforcement and emergency response workers watched the path of yet another hurricane – Rita – which seemed to be forging a path which could directly affect Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the 229th MP Company and the 192nd Security Forces Squadron had been working, and large parts of Texas.  Duffel bags and rucksacks had been packed, equipment was secured, and vehicles were inspected and prepared for the long trip back to Virginia.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 28, 2005

Additional Virginia Guard units to deploy to Louisiana

BLACKSTONE, Va. - These Virginia Army and Air National Guard units received orders to begin preparing for deployment to Louisiana to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts: 

Unit Hometown Mission
1st Battalion, 246th Field Artillery Danville
Martinsville
Chatham
South Boston
Command and control of units
Distribution of material
Company B (Medical), 429th Forward Support Battalion Charlottesville Medical support
192nd Medical Group Sandston Medical support
1710th Transportation Company Bowling Green
Rocky Mount
Transportation of material
1032nd Transportation Company Gate City Transportation of material

This mission includes approximately 320 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.  Approximately 150 Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 246th Field Artillery; approximately 80 Soldiers and Airmen from Company B (Medical), 429th Forward Support Battalion and the 192nd Medical Group; and approximately 90 Soldiers from the 1710th Transportation Company and 1032nd Transportation Company will support this recovery effort. 
 
The deployment is projected to last from Sept. 26 through Nov. 2, 2005.  The Soldiers and Airmen will begin preparation for the deployment at their home armories on Sept. 26 and leave for Louisiana on Sept. 28 by convoy.  They are scheduled to arrive in Louisiana on Oct. 1.  Once they arrive in Louisiana they will receive missions from the Louisiana National Guard. 

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Posted September 26, 2005

Task Force Stonewall on the ground in 50 hours

GULFPORT, Miss. — Once Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers got the call to travel to Mississippi to help residents here recover from Hurricane Katrina, it took just 50 hours to get them on the ground and begin their mission. 

“To recall Soldiers, get all our equipment together, fly to a disaster area and start providing relief assistance in two days is remarkable,” said Lt. Col. John Epperly, commander of Task Force Stonewall. “A lot of units couldn’t do that but I’m proud that we did.”

Making the mission even harder was the fact that the orders came down over the Labor Day Weekend, when Soldiers were scattered about, enjoying their last few days of summer.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 20, 2005

TEAM Virginia provides clean water to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- After Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, a number of states sent several thousand National Guard Soldiers to assist with the relief and security efforts. But while crime, looting and stranded citizens became a continued problem that needed National Guard assistance, one of the more serious effects of the hurricane, was also the lack of clean water.

This is just the kind of emergency that the Virginia Air National Guard’s 203rd Red Horse Squadron has trained for.

The six-man unit deployed at the beginning of September as part of Joint Task Force Cardinal, a team of National Guard Units from Virginia which includes the 203rd, the 229th Military Police Company, the 192nd Security Forces Squadron and several support units. The Red Horse has a singular mission:  to provide clean water Soldiers and, in many cases, civilians need.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 20, 2005

Adjutant General visits troops providing hurricane support

LAKE CHARLES , La. – The Soldiers of the 229th Military Police Company got the opportunity to receive answers to some of their most pressing questions from the Adjutant General of Virginia on Sept. 13.  Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, along with Virginia Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Huffman, visited the National Guard Soldiers who are deployed in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“We wanted to speak to the troops and express appreciation not only for myself, but from the Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall and Governor Mark Warner,” Williams said.  “They’re both very concerned about the Soldiers down here, their welfare and how they have been received here.”

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Click HERE to see photos from the trip.

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Posted September 15, 2005

Virginia Guard Soldiers & Airmen provide relief to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- The calls came late on Friday afternoon, and within two hours nearly two hundred Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard were being equipped for relief operations in support of New Orleans, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. 

Joint Task Force Cardinal, led by Lt. Col. Damon Igou, an artillery officer in the Virginia Army National Guard, was tasked to provide support to the relief effort comprised of Solders, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines from across the nation, as well as from the Active components of the services (including brigade combat teams from the 1st Cavalry and 82d Airborne Divisions).

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Click HERE to see photos from the operation.

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Posted September 15, 2005

Mississippi residents shower Virginia Guard Soldiers with food, love

GULFPORT, Miss. — Although the residents of Gulfport, Miss., have lost cars, boats and homes, they’re still finding it within themselves to give something back to the Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers sent here to help them recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Whether it’s food, drinks or just a kind word, Soldiers with Operation Stonewall Relief have been overwhelmed by the kindness of total strangers who have lost so much and whose lives have been changed forever.

“They’ve all been awesome,” said Pfc. Silvan Mason, a Soldier with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 15, 2005

Virginia Army Guard Soldiers provide security to Mississippi neighborhoods

GULFPORT, Miss. — More than 200 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers rolled into Southern Mississippi on Sept. 8 as military efforts to help the hurricane-ravaged communities along the Gulf Coast continued.

Troops from the 29th Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment are in Gulfport, Miss., where they are assisting with disaster recovery operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“Operation Stonewall Relief” is expected to last several weeks and includes Soldiers from the battalion’s companies in Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Lexington and Harrisonburg. Additional Soldiers participating in the mobilization include 65 infantry troops from 1st Bn., 116th Inf. Regt., 10 mechanics with the 3647th Maintenance Co., two fuel handlers from Detachment 7, Joint Force Headquarters, and a two-person unit ministry team from the state chaplain’s office.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Click HERE to see photos of their arrival.

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Posted September 15, 2005

Virginia Guardsmen participate in humanitarian mission

JENNINGS, La. -- The victims of Hurricane Katrina in and around Lake Charles, La., are not housed at just two locations; they are spread out at shelters over several nearby towns. Members of the 229th Military Police Company and their support units were able to make a delivery of humanitarian supplies to one such shelter Sept. 12.

Jennings, Louisiana, a town of just over 11,000 people in Jefferson Davis Parish, has taken in 350 evacuees and the town’s authorities requested whatever help they could get from the Virginia National Guard. That’s why Soldiers delivered water and several air beds to be used by the evacuees.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 13, 2005

Military police Soldiers give ICU nurses a lift

LAKE CHARLES, La. -- What do you do if you are an emergency room or an Intensive Care Unit nurse, and you must get to New Orleans, La., to help the victims of a devastating hurricane, but have no way of getting there?

You ask the Virginia National Guard for a ride.

That’s exactly what happened to three nurses from California who had to get to New Orleans as quickly as possible.  But instead of despairing or giving up, the women requested assistance from the 229th Military Police Company.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 12, 2005

Virginia Guard military police units on patrol in Lake Charles

LAKE CHARLES, La. -- The 229th Military Police Company and the 192nd Security Forces Squadron of the Virginia National Guard left the Commonwealth together on Sept. 3, 2005 to assist in relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  They did not know exactly what their mission would be at the time, but that has now changed.

On Sept. 6, the Soldiers and Airmen of these two military police units were ordered to proceed from New Orleans to Lake Charles.  Their mission involves supplementing Lake Charles law enforcement efforts so the overworked local police and sheriff’s deputies can return to their regular duties.  They will also provide humanitarian aid, including transport of vital resources such as food, water and medical supplies.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Click HERE to read a story from a Lake Charles TV station about the Guard's efforts in Lake Charles.

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Posted September 10, 2005

Governor and Senator tour "Town Pickett"

BLACKSTONE, Va. -- Governor Mark R. Warner and U.S. Senator John Warner today saw first hand the efforts to transform Fort Pickett into “Town Pickett” in order to provide services and sheltering for people displaced from the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina. Facilities on Fort Pickett as well as at Blackstone’s Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) have been readied to provide support when the call comes from the federal government.

“A lot of state and local employees and other volunteers have worked marathon hours to prepare this site for the eventual arrival of evacuees from the Gulf Coast,” said Governor Warner.  “Fort Pickett and the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center are ready to take in 1,400 evacuees immediately, and more than 1,600 other beds have been identified around the Commonwealth as the need arises. From medical care to counseling to helping people find a job, these companion facilities are designed for the next phase of this disaster: quality shelter until people can decide how, when, and where to move on with their lives.”

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 9, 2005

Deployed Soldiers contribute supplies to hurricane relief

Virginia Guard Soldiers deployed in Iraq have joined the relief efforts taking place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Members of Battery B, 2-111th Field Artillery have gathered together supplies to send to people in need in the affected regions of the Gulf Coast.

"Soldiers in my unit organize some of the care packages we receive and are shipping them to organizations who will distribute them to American citizens in need," said 1st Sgt. Martin R. Steiner, Jr., currently stationed in Camp Bucca, Iraq. "I sent an e-mail to several key leaders I work with, and their response and support has been tremendous. They have begun spreading the word to FOBs all across Iraq and we hope to see this effort on a grand scale."

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 7, 2005

Virginia agencies provide support in the wake of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf States on August 29, bringing massive destruction to hundreds of communities throughout the area. President Bush has declared portions of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi federal disaster areas. FEMA and other federal agencies are assisting local recovery efforts.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, through a national emergency response network, is working to send emergency personnel to the affected states. Governor Mark Warner has directed state agencies and entities to inventory what resources might be deployed without affecting operations and services within the Commonwealth.

Visit FirstGov <http://www.firstgov.gov> , the federal government's online Katrina public information source.

Visit the VDEM website http://www.vdem.state.va.us/newsroom/katrina.cfm, Virginia's online Katrina public information source.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 7, 2005

Additional Virginia Army Guard Soldiers to assist in recovery operations

BLACKSTONE, Va. - An additional 225 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers were making preparations today for deployment to Mississippi where they will assist in disaster recovery operations. Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry will join over 190 Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard already supporting recovery operations in Louisiana. The Soldiers and Airmen were ordered to State Active Duty by Governor Mark Warner in response to the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina.  

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry will travel to Sandston, Va. tomorrow morning where they will complete administrative and medical processing to ensure they are fully ready for deployment to the hurricane ravaged area.  Following that they are scheduled to fly from Richmond International Airport to Jackson, Miss. and then travel to Camp Shelby, Miss.  Once they arrive at Camp Shelby the Soldiers will be assigned to a specific disaster recovery mission by the Mississippi National Guard.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 5, 2005

Virginia Guard units en route to provide Katrina recovery support

The Virginia Army National Guard’s 229th Military Police Company along with elements of the Air National Guard’s 192nd Security Forces Squadron and the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron are making their way to the affected areas of Louisiana in order to give support and help provide an element of stability to the region. On August 29th, Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast, leaving a swath of death and destruction rarely seen in our lifetimes. On September 2nd, the Virginia National Guard answered the call for help.

“Our mission is to help provide security,” said Capt. Tanya Seymore, commander of the 229th MP Company.  While the efforts already taking place in the affected region are providing some relief, such as supplying food and water to the victims, Seymore says the military police’s job remains the same: bringing a measure of stability and security to an area rife with looting and violence.

For most of the Guardsmen making the journey, the current deployment did not come as a surprise after having seen news reports coming out of New Orleans. However, many received only a few hours’ notice and little time to prepare.  Nonetheless, the Soldiers and Airmen are happy they get the chance to help in any way they can.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 5, 2005

Virginia Soldiers and Airmen leave for Louisiana

BLACKSTONE, Va. - Approximately 170 Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard completed preparations for their deployment to Louisiana today.  The Soldiers and Airmen were ordered to State Active Duty to assist recovering from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina.  Those deploying are assigned to several different Army and Air Guard units from across the Commonwealth and possess a wide variety of skills.  

The following units and personnel are scheduled for deployment:

  • Soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company in Virginia Beach and Airmen from the 192nd Security Force Squadron in Sandston will provide security support.  
  • Soldiers from the 222nd Quartermaster Detachment in Staunton will provide water storage and distribution capabilities.  
  • Airmen from the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron located in Virginia Beach will provide potable water using reverse osmosis process equipment.  
  • Soldiers from the 3647th Maintenance Company in Blackstone and the 1710th Transportation Company located in Manassas and Bowling Green will provide transportation support.  
  • The 3647th Maintenance Company will also provide a maintenance team as well.  
  • Other Soldiers will provide fuel handling, public affairs, and liaison team support for the mission.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 2, 2005

Virginia Soldiers ordered to duty to support hurricane recovery operations

BLACKSTONE, Va. - Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, announced today that personnel from both the Virginia Army and Air Guard will enter state active duty to support recovery operations associated with Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 120 Soldiers of the 229th Military Police Company, Virginia Army National Guard, stationed in Virginia Beach, Va., along with approximately 25 Airmen of the 192nd Security Force Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard, stationed in Sandston, Va. and two Airmen from the 192nd Fighter Wing Unit Ministry Team, Virginia Air National Guard, also stationed in Sandston, Va. will enter state active duty at their home stations on Sept. 1, 2005.  

The activation is in anticipation of receiving an Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC request from the state of Louisiana.  The deployment location for the Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be finalized when the EMAC request is received from Louisiana.   

Click HERE to read the entire story.

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Posted September 1, 2005