Sept. 30, 2011

Virginia National Guard Soldiers complete support mission in Vermont

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

SANDSTON, Va.. — The Virginia National Guard Soldiers supporting recovery operations in Vermont completed their last haul mission Sept. 27 and are returning home to Virginia. Approximately 20 Soldiers and six 20-ton dump trucks began running missions Sept. 8 to assist with clean up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon provided the personnel and dump trucks, and the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company provided a maintenance team and support vehicle. The Soldiers are scheduled to arrive at Fort Pickett Sept. 30.

 

Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Fort Pickett-based 157th Engineer Platoon work to repair Hurricane Irene's damage to U.S. Highway 4 in Vermont on Sept. 12, 2011. The Virginia National Guard has been supporting the Vermont National Guard's Task Force Green Mountain Spirit under a state Emergency Management Assistance Compact. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill)

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While in Vermont, the Soldiers transported 781 loads in the dump trucks for a total of 8,860 cubic yards of rock and fill dirt. They drove more than 25,600 miles and logged in nearly 2,900 hours of training time on their equipment. They augmented the 133rd Engineer Battalion from the Maine Army National Guard and worked directly for the Vermont Agency of Transportation in coordination with a civilian contractor.

According to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, 450 miles of Vermont’s 2,700 miles of state highway were closed the day after Hurricane Irene hit. State road crews, contractors and National Guard personnel from six different states worked nearly 16-hour days for eleven days and opened all but 57 miles of state highway.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin praised the work of everyone involved and called opening the road network “an extraordinary achievement.”

The experience in Vermont was a positive one for the Soldiers from Virginia.

“From the first day and the first plate of brownies, the local community has been so supportive, thankful and generous that we were all in awe,” wrote Sgt. Steven L. Moore in a post on the Vermont Rutland Herald Facebook Page. “We are accustomed to ‘Southern hospitality,’ but the people of Vermont have taken it to a new level. Thank you, Vermont, for showing how people can pull together in times of need. I can only hope that if this ever happens in Virginia, or anywhere else in this great country, the people would act the same way.”

The post prompted dozens of positive responses.

“I know that Vermont appreciates all that the National Guard members do for us,” wrote Kathi Sheehan Stern. “We thank them for being here in our time of need.”

Vermont made the request in early September through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, 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.”

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.

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