Va. National Guard supports winter storm response with transportation and aerial resupply

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assist with a patient transport Jan. 6, 2018, in York County, Virginia. (Photo courtesy 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard put more than 100 personnel on state active duty in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas Jan. 3, 2018, to provide assistance to state and local authorities when heavy snow hit the region. Over the following three days, Soldiers transported first responders and essential emergency services employees through heavy snow, assisted with response calls and patient transports and aviation crews delivered food, medicine and other supplies to icebound Tangier Island, Virginia. All Virginia National Guard personnel were released from duty by end of the day Jan. 7.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group assist local authorities with high mobility transport Jan. 4-6, 2018, in Accomack County, Virginia. (Photo courtesy 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)

“Virginia is very fortunate to have great teams of first responders and emergency services professionals who keep our citizens safe during incidents of hazardous weather, and the Virginia National Guard’s job in domestic operations is to provide additional assistance when the situation exceeds their capabilities,” explained Brig. Gen. Paul Griffin, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff. “I think our Soldiers, Airmen, Virginia Defense Force members and state and federal civilian employees did a great job across the board whether it was driving through heavy snow, flying supplies to Tangier Island, coordinating with partner agencies, managing mission information or providing sustainment support to make sure they had food, fuel or whatever else they needed to conduct their missions. It was a great team effort, and they should all feel proud of the contribution they made to the multi-agency response that helped their fellow Virginians when they really needed it.”

Over a three-day period, Virginia National Guard Soldiers transported approximately 30 first responders and essential emergency services personnel through heavy snow in Accomack County, and they assisted emergency medical teams with more than 50 response calls or patient transports in Accomack County, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. When first responders were not able to get their vehicles through deep snow, Soldiers used Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to either transport them to the response call location to render aid or will help move the patient back to the response vehicle for evacuation. In the Eastern Shore region, Soldiers also transported individuals for kidney dialysis treatments.

View photos of the transport missions:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157690378222141

Virginia National Guard aviation crews aboard two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters pick up and deliver food, mail and medicine Jan. 6, 2018, to icebound Tangier Island, Virginia. (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group and the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group used Humvees and light/medium tactical tracks to travel through the heavy snow.

Soldiers from the 529th CSSB provided mission command for operations in the region.

Virginia National Guard aviation crews aboard two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters picked up and delivered food, mail and medicine Jan. 6. to icebound Tangier Island, Virginia. Six Soldiers assigned to Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment participated in the mission, flying first to Crisfield, Maryland, to pick up supplies, then on to the 1.2-square-mile island of Tangier, located in the Chesapeake Bay. Following their first delivery to the island, air crews stopped for fuel at the Accomack County Airport in Virginia and headed back out for round two, again picking up supplies in Crisfield and delivering them to Tangier Island.

View photos of the aviation mission on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157664433587018

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force were on duty in Sandston, Richmond and Fort Pickett providing mission command, sustainment and public information support.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Jan. 3 authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the significant winter storm. In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia.

“I am proud of how quickly and safely our personnel were able to rapidly respond and position troops and equipment so they are ready to respond if needed,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “The capabilities we provide are an important part of the commonwealth’s emergency response, and our partners at the state and local level count on us being there to assist. It is also important that we remember the magnificent support our troops receive from their families and employers and how critical that support is to mission success.”

View photos of preparations on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157690233961101

During domestic operations, the Virginia National Guard receives missions through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist the Virginia State Police and other state and local emergency service organizations.

About the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide a combat reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth.

The Virginia National Guard has mobilized nearly 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen for federal active duty overseas deployments since January 2014, and they join more than 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized since Sept. 11, 2001.

Since January 2014, the Virginia National Guard has mobilized nearly 2,570 Soldiers, Airmen and members of the VDF on state active duty to respond to 12 different incidents of hurricanes, winter storms and flooding across the Commonwealth. The Virginia Guard also mobilized more than 500 personnel for security operations in Charlottesville Aug. 12, and also deployed more than 500 Soldiers to assist with hurricane recovery operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Virginia National Guard also had nearly 40 Soldiers and VDF members conduct cyber vulnerability assessments in seven different Virginia localities in the last 18 months.

The Virginia Defense Force is authorized by the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the Virginia National Guard and serves as a force multiplier integrated into all Virginia Guard domestic operations. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.

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