By Major Richard Goldenberg Guard Times Staff LATHAM The familiar sound of military helicopters may be missed from the skies of New York this summer as members of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment departed this spring for federal duty supporting Stabilization Force missions in Bosnia.
About one-third of the battalion deployed to the unit's mobilization station at Fort Drum on June 4, 2002 to begin training for the mission, set to begin this fall. The Stabilization Force mission, known as SFOR, provides security and peacekeeping support to the developing multi-ethnic communities in Bosnia-Herzogovenia.
"We're excited about this mission. A lot of us are a little anxious, but excited," said Major Mark Slusar, battalion operations officer and detachment commander for the one hundred soldiers called to federal service.
Unit mobilizations and overseas training are nothing new to the 3-142nd. The battalion recently returned from an overseas training mission in Nicaragua, supported training missions in Honduras, and even deployed a detachment to the Balkans back in 1997. In addition to these federal duties, the battalion has been a key player in state active duty missions during the recent mudslides last year in upstate New York, the Wildfires in the Hudson Valley and Long Island, and the devastating Ice Storm in 1998.
"Going away for a year, well that sure is a long time," said Sgt. John Schubert, an aircraft mechanic in the detachment while vehicle convoys and buses prepared to depart the unit headquarters in Latham. "I'm sure things will go in stride. Army deployments now are very different from just a few years ago. With email, video teleconferencing and other technologies, the Army will work to keep us in touch. It will be fine," he said while family members came to say farewell.
The detachment will train on individual, crew and collective aviation tasks at Fort Drum before heading to Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania for a culminating field training exercise in July.
Following a brief respite back at home, the flight detachment will conduct a farewell ceremony for family members in mid-July. The soldiers will then prepare the UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters for overseas shipment and continue training leader and staff tasks at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
"We will train on all the routine tasks that all Army Blackhawk crews focus on," said Slusar. "Crews will train on everything from air assaults and multi-ship operations to slingloads," he said. "And all our crews will train each task using night vision goggles for night operations."
The federal mobilization of the 142nd is just the latest in a series of activationsthat signal an increased use of New York Army National Guard units for federal missions that inlcude Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. Soldiers of the battalion who supported the state's military forces following the events of 9-11 have a different perspective on this deployment from years past. "There's an increased sense of pride and patriotism within our society now," said Slusar. "And that gives all of us the motivation to do the job we were asked to do."
The troops are deploying in support of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Infantry Division. The Stabilization Force (SFOR) rotations in Bosnia routinely last for six months before transitioning to the next Army unit deploying to the Balkans.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Defense News Service) -- The Department of Defense announced May first that servicemembers on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible to receive the National Defense Service Medal.
"The sacrifices and contributions made by the Armed Forces in direct response to the terrorism attacks on the United States and to the long-term resolution of terrorism merit special recognition," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
The National Defense Service Medal may also be awarded to members of the Reserve components who are ordered to federal active duty, regardless of duration, except for certain categories.
While no closing date has been established, eligible servicemembers can receive the award immediately.
The National Defense Service Medal was first established by President Eisenhower in 1953, and was subsequently awarded for honorable active service for any period between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954, between Jan. 1, 1961 and Aug. 14, 1974, and between Aug. 2, 1990 and Nov. 30, 1995.
For the purpose of the award, the following persons will not be considered as performing active service:
(1) Guard and Reserve forces personnel on short tours of duty to fulfill training obligations under an inactive duty training program.(2) Any person on active duty for the sole purpose of undergoing a physical examination.
(3) Any person on temporary active duty to serve on boards, courts, commissions and like organizations or on active duty for purposes other than extended active duty.
The National Defense Service Medal may be awarded to members of the Reserve Components who are ordered to Federal active duty, regardless of duration, except for the categories listed above.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A former member of the New York National Guard's 27th Infantry Division in World War Two, Capt. Ben L. Salomon was honored for heroism at a White House ceremony by President George Bush on May first.
Salomon, a dentist and battalion surgeon with the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment during World War II, sacrificed himself to save patients when 5,000 Japanese troops launched an overwhelming charge during the Battle of Saipan on July 7, 1944. He was in the battalion aid station when the enemy troops attacked and he ordered enlisted medics to evacuate the wounded to a rear area.
The two machine gunners assigned to defend his aid station were killed, so Salomon told his medics he would man a machine gun. He was heard to shout to the enlisted medics, "I'll hold them off until you get them to safety. See you later." The patients and medics all made it out safely, but Salomon was found dead at his post the next day, his finger still on the machine gun trigger. Around him lay the bodies of nearly 100 Japanese attackers. He had sustained more than thirty wounds.
The battle of Saipan also marks the award of two other medals of honor to 27th Division soldiers, Lt. Col. William O'Brien and Sgt. Thomas Baker. All received their honors for actions on that very day.
Robert West, a World War II veteran and dentist from Calabasas, Calif., pursued the honors on Salomon's behalf. He learned of Salomon's heroics in 1995 while researching notable alumni for the University of Southern California's centennial celebration. Salomon was a 1937 graduate of the university's dental school. His Medal of Honor will be displayed at the United States Army Dental School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
LATHAM - As part of the Governor's Office of Employee Relations, members of the New York National Guard who served or continue to serve in a State Active Duty Status (SAD) in the vicinity of the World Trade Center are reminded to ensure their personal data is recorded with their units for long-term medical monitoring.
The data of service members in the immediate vicinity of ground zero is part of a statewide initiative to identify the thousands of workers in New York City.
The WTC area for personnel tracking includes the following boundaries of lower Manhattan: From the Hudson River east to Broadway and from Park Placesouth to Rector Place. Locations on the city piers where debris was loaded onto barges for the Fresh Kill landfill on Staten Island is also included.
As the pathos of the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack approaches and passes, I am still amazed at the remarkable resiliency of our nation's two greatest assets: It's people and our communities.
I look at these two national treasures and I say to myself, "we'll get through this, we'll make it, we'll have another time in the sun."
That's because, notwithstanding all the sacrifice and travail of the past year, there is always the natural recuperative tendency of the community and the people to return to sound health, and eventually the stability of "normalcy."
Plus we Americans have always excelled at comebacks.
Our National Guard and state militia components, for instance - despite the fact that an estimated 16,000 were called to terrorist attack recovery duty the past year - still found the time to support a plethora of charitable causes; all genuine, sustaining and worthy in their own right.
The Guard was there, all year, across the state and the City, supporting the best volunteer community efforts, as always. Groups as varied as the American Legion, V.F.W., Vietnam Veterans of America, the Jewish War Veterans, the Special Olympics, the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and the March of Dimes, all the way to the Make A Wish Foundation; Big Brother, Big Sister; the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and the Salvation Army, community little leagues, blood drives and literally hundreds of others have been helped, big and small.
We are eager and glad, within the finite resources made available to us by the State of New York and the U.S. Department of Defense, to assist the deserving volunteers inside these community organizations who do such good work.
One of them who comes immediately to mind is a long time, personal friend and downright impressive human being - Don Plunkett. Don is from Orange County, down or up my way, depending on where you live.
He is disabled with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and medically retired a while back from the New York State Troopers. This never stopped Don; not in a New York minute!
A couple of years ago he started training for the National Veterans' Wheelchair Games, held in Manhattan last July. After only one year of training, Don, being Don, won a gold medal in both bowling and rifle shooting.
Bowling was a sport Don was basically unfamiliar with when he started. He had to use a wheelchair and lacks fine motor skills. The ball he was given, therefore, has to holes. But there is a weight built inside the ball, and one determines how and where to roll the ball by figuring the placement of the weight. He and his competitors use a ramp for rolling the ball. The VA provided Don with a coach who trained him for a year before the games.
In typical sensitive fashion, Don said of his Wheelchair Games victory: "You're really not competing against each other; you're competing against disability."
At my old unit, the 105th Airlift Wing and the 105th Security Police at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, has supported MS fund raising drives over the years by participating in the annual Great Tappan Zee Bike-A-Thon. Many units and individual Guard members do these kinds of commendable acts, often volunteering their own time and remaining unsung in the process.
Giving people like my friend Don Plunkett.
Dear Guard Times: I am writing to put a thank you letter in the Guard Times. Recently our company First Sergeant Ron Coy retired from the Army National Guard and soon we will lose our Company Commander, Capt. Nicholas Teta for the same reason.
I just wanted to publicly say "thank you" to these outstanding soldiers for giving me the training and knowledge that I needed when we went out to the field. Under their command and leadership we in Company A, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment in Geneseo, NY have been given a chance to prove that we are the best at what we do.
Over the years, we have been through a lot of things that can diminish a unit's pride and morale, but Capt. Teta and First Sgt. Coy kept us together and fought for what we have today. They went out of their way to make sure we had what we needed when we needed it. In the times of tragedy, they were there. When we kicked some serious butt, they didn't take all the glory and run, they shared it with the unit.
We, at Company A, 1-108th, are proud to have served with them and would like to send out a big "thank you" and good luck in the future to First Sgt. Coy "Top," Capt. Teta and both their families.
We're going to miss them both and think about them when we go into the field again.
Sincerely, Specialist Matt Horcsog Company A, 1-108th Infantry Geneseo
Dear Guard Times, As a U.S. Navy veteran and employee at the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego, I would like to express my support for the members of the New York National Guard who have professionally provided the extra security at our power plants during these unsettled days since 9/11.
My father joined the National Guard as a young man and was activated in 1939, serving with the 209th Coastal Artillery. He didn't return to his home in Buffalo until late 1945. He stayed in the Guard after the war and spent his life as a member of the National Guard until he died in 1969. It was tough to have him leave for his annual training and time away from our family for military schools.
Many New Yorkers don't understand the broad mission of the National Guard and don't appreciate the sacrifice that their fellow citizens make for us. We here at FitzPatrick and the other power plants see it everyday. Thank you.
Sincerely, Edward Riley Entergy Corporation FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant Oswego, New York
Guard Times Staff SYRACUSE As the federally-supported security mission at air ports across the nation draws to a close by the end of May, Governor George E. Pataki congratulated members of the New York Army National Guard's 27th Light Infantry Brigade for seven months of exemplary service to their state and nation.
"For more than seven months, the soldiers of the 27th Brigade have put their lives on hold to bolster security at 20 airports across the State of New York," Governor Pataki said. "During difficult times, their presence helped restore New Yorkers' confidence in air travel, and provided an effective deterrent against possible wrongdoing.
"On behalf of all the people of New York State, I would like to thank the soldiers of the 27th Brigade for their dedication, sacrifice and professionalism," the Governor said. "They accepted an extraordinary mission and did an extraordinary job."
On September 27, 2001, President Bush authorized and requested the governors of the United States to deploy National Guard forces to provide interim supplemental security support to airports within their states. On October 2, after initial mission assessment and planning by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, Governor Pataki signed Executive Order 113.27 authorizing the deployment of armed National Guard troops to support airport security across New York.
The airport mission involved 390 soldiers per day across the state, and rose to 490 per day during the heavily traveled Thanksgiving to New Year holiday season. In all, 1,800 members of the 27th Brigade participated in the airport security mission. While the troops served under the Governor's authority, the costs were paid federally as part of the Operation Noble Eagle homeland defense mission.
Major General Thomas P. Maguire, Jr., Adjutant General of the State of New York, said, "We've deployed nearly 14,000 members of the New York State's militia forces since September 11 and I could not be prouder of the way our people have stepped up to support the citizens of our state and nation. The 27th Brigade embraced this mission from the get-go, and their performance on this challenging and sometimes tedious duty has been outstanding."
The Department of Defense and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) have established May 31 as the close of the National Guard airport mission across the nation. New York will gradually stand down troops to meet the May 31 target.
Until the required TSA security personnel can be hired and adequately trained, airports will be authorized to hire, at federal expense, local law enforcement personnel for additional support. Airports across New York, with exception of those supported by the Port Authority, are in the process of entering memoranda of understanding with TSA and local law enforcement agencies.
According to Major General Maguire, the Guard will only stand down its troops from airports that have already made necessary arrangements for local law enforcement support. "We will not leave any airports uncovered," said Maguire. The 27th Light Infantry Brigade, with 3,200 soldiers, comprises approximately one-third of the New York Army National Guard. The Brigade is headquartered in Syracuse with subordinate units throughout the state.
Last summer, the 27th Brigade accomplished a threeweek rotation at the Army's Joint Readiness Training Center at Ft. Polk, LA. In near 100-degree heat the entire brigade fought a simulated battle against a highly trained US Army opposing force at the Army's premier battle training facility. The training event was the New York Army National Guard's largest and most significant since WWII.
By Joe Burlas Army News Service WASHINGTON, DC The Army announced June 6 a fourth increment to the Stop-Loss program that allows it to retain soldiers in certain specialties beyond their date of separation or retirement for an open-ended period.
While the new call will keep about 260 soldiers on active duty who had potential separation or retirement dates between now and Sept. 30, it releases another 370 who had been impacted by previous Stop-Loss decisions.
Stop-Loss continues to retain about 12,000 active, Reserve and National Guard soldiers.
"Stop-Loss is necessary to retain the critical skills needed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle," said Lt. Col. Bob Ortiz, chief of Enlisted Professional Development, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G1. "The key word is critical. These are skills where we have found a need to retain soldiers to support a myriad of operational requirements since Sept. 11th."
Stop-Loss has expanded to include the following officer specialties:
The following enlisted military occupational specialties have been added:
Enlisted soldiers released from previous Stop-Loss announcements include the follow MOSs:
No warrant officer specialties were added or released by the recent announcement.
The first Stop-Loss announcement was made Nov. 30. It was directed at active-duty Special Forces and certain aviation soldiers. The second and third announcements, made Dec. 27 and Feb. 8 respectively, expanded the program to additional specialties and included the reserve component.
Stop-Loss does not impact involuntary separations or mandatory retirements.
The Army will continue to evaluate Stop- Loss requirements on a monthly basis, Ortiz said.
Story by Major Richard Goldenberg Guard Times Staff FORT DRUM The narratives of their evaluators echoing in their ears, one hundred and twenty soldiers from across the entire 27th Brigade progressed through the testing stations for the brigade's Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) EIB Stakes. The testing, held during the brigade's annual training in late June, evaluated the proficiency of individual soldiers to master those combat skills critical for success in combat.
The Expert Infantry Badge competition involves an evaluation of some 30 infantry soldier tasks. The criteria and evaluation of the stakes are taken directly from the U.S. Army Infantry Center guidelines for awarding the coveted qualification badge. The soldier evaluations, drawn from Common Task Training (CTT) and infantry soldier's skill level one and two tasks.
"The tasks here at the EIB stakes have a combat orientation," explained operations NCO Master Sgt Lance Robson. "Soldiers familiar with their basic infantry tasks will recognize all of the training here, but it is condensed and much more realistic." As an example, Robson points out that the evaluation for an individual call for fire and adjust fire is shortened to the key steps, just as it might be done in combat.
"The things these soldiers master here are the things they need to survive and succeed as an infantryman," Robson noted.
The competition for the Expert Infantry Badge is an event not seen in the 27th Brigade for more than 15 years. "The last training event like this that I remember was 1985," said Staff Sgt. Spanton, administering the M2 .50 calibre machine gun station. "This is a great event for the soldiers, it is what they signed up to do," he said as candidate Spec. Sean Rice, from Company D, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry completed his evaluation of the weapons head space and timing.
Before soldiers even arrived at the 27th Brigade EIB stakes, they all had to meet some prerequisites for the training. First, soldiers needed to qualify expert on their assigned weapon. Second, all soldiers participating must have the recommendation of their company commander to participate. Lastly, like every other aspect of Army training, all soldiers must meet the height and weight standards of Army Regulation 600-9 before participating in the EIB competitions.
"The feedback I'm getting from each and every soldier here is that this is the best training our brigade soldiers have ever had," said Command Sgt. Major Richard Fearnside, the 27th Brigade's senior non-commissioned officer and a driving force behind the EIB stakes.
"We had this training on the schedule almost a year ago, knowing that whatever training we planned after JRTC (the Joint Readiness Training Center, where the brigade deployed last August) had to be something important to our soldiers," Fearnside said.
After nine months of realworld missions following the terror attacks of September 11th, the training has even more meaning for soldiers. "Our guys have been pulling duty for Noble Eagle for almost nine months," Fearnside noted. "This training here gets their heads back into their profession. The focus here is on the individual, and our guys are really responding to that," he said.
Soldiers were authorized up to one failure at a site evaluation, called a No- Go. If retested successfully, the soldier could continue on his training evaluations. Should he receive a second No-Go at the same task, he was no longer in the running to receive an EIB. Three No-Gos from any of the thirty tasks was also a reason for disqualification.
"Is it stress or is it fun? Well, I would have to say this is stressful fun for the soldiers," said Corp. Andrew Faber from Company B, 1-108th Infantry at his Range Estimation station.
"The guys who come back to the ops center with No-Gos still want to go ahead and complete the training," noted Sgt. First Class John Therrien, from Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry and a member of the NCO Board that oversees the training. "They recognize the value of this training and go right back out there to complete the course. Its something they all want to experience and finish, even knowing that they'll have to come back next year for another try," he said.
The EIB Stakes finished on its fourth day of training with a twelve-mile foot march with combat load. Soldiers completing the threehour task could look back at their training with pride and for those successfully completing all the evaluations, the presentation of the Expert Infantry Badge.
"The EIB stakes gives everyone a lot of bang for just a few bucks," said Thurrien. "And the bonus of the additional 15 promotion points doesn't hurt, either."
By Friday morning, the 21st of June, five candidates remained in the running for the start of the 12-mile roadmarch. Three hours later, four soldiers stood in formation to receive their coveted prize. Receiving the Expert Infantry Badge were Second Lt. Michael Gieraltowski, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry, First Sgt. Harold Jones from Company A, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry and from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry were Sgt. Gregory Moore and Spec. James Norman.
A fifth candidate fell out of the road march due to heat stroke just shy of the finish and was evacuated to the Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown where he was treated and released later that weekend.
With so many challenging evaluations and a grueling short time frame for the soldiers, many returned to their units without the EIB, but with a renewed appreciation for their skills and responsibilities as infantry soldiers. "I don't expect everyone to make it through and take that badge home this time around," Fearnside summarized. "What I do expect is that every soldier will take away something new that they learned and the motivation to double their efforts and come back again next year."
Story by Major Richard Goldenberg HQ, 42nd ID (M) FORT DRUM Dozens of different berets and a variety of uniforms appeared here in New York State's North Country in late June for the Joint Forces Command training exercise Cooperative Nugget 2002. Nearly three hundred military leaders from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program came together for the exercise, including the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe and some neutral nations from Western Europe.
The battle simulation held June 19 through the 26th brought together a wide mix of soldiers, uniforms and experiences to train on NATO planning and reporting procedures. The goal is to establish a common framework for future multinational deployments that support peace operations.
"My bottom line is to work together, learn from each other, and have fun," said Major General George T. Garrett, the Rainbow Division Commander and Exercise Director. "We are here to train on interoperability, a fancy term for learning to work together for a common goal."
"If someone had told me ten or twelve years ago that I would one day come to the United States for a NATO exercise, I would have sent them to the hospital for brain damage," noted Major Ilkhomjon Toorsunov from Uzbekistan. "I grew up in the Soviet military system when the West was our enemy. Time changes everything," he said.
Cooperative Nugget included leaders and soldiers from the Rainbow Division's 86th Brigade (The Vermont Brigade) from Montpelier, Vermont and the division Headquarters and Headquarters Company based in Troy, New York. In addition to the Battle Simulation Center at Fort Drum, soldiers from the Rainbow Division will support command posts in Lisbon, Portugal and Stockholm, Sweden.
This year marks the first time that a National Guard division hosted the NATO exercise. The Rainbow Division headquarters provided exercise control, staff support and logistics to the exercise. The division's 86th Brigade and its battalions from the Vermont Army National Guard provided the staff headquarters for the exercise, creating the 86th Multinational Brigade for the battle simulation.
Nations participating included Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, the United States, and Uzbekistan.
The exercise integrated foreign officers from twenty countries into combat units to practice North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operating procedures. Cooperative Nugget focuses on command and control, communications and reporting of military operations between NATO nations and its nonaligned partners.
"Cead mile failte, which means a hundred thousand welcomes in Gaelic, says it all," said Col. Leonard Mullen, referring to the tremendous reception and response he felt visitors received from the 42nd Division Headquarters and 86th Brigade soldiers. Mullen worked closely with Division Chief of Staff Col. Mark Heffner throughout the exercise and spent a good deal of time talking with American soldiers of Irish decent.
Mullen is the Commandant of the Irish Command Staff School where he oversees the training of Ireland's senior officers. In the Irish Army since 1964, he sees a great deal of similarities between the Irish Defense Forces and the National Guard's emerging role in Homeland Security. "Our army has been the country's internal security resource, supporting civil government and the police for over 40 years," said Mullen.
The battle simulation rehearses critical NATO procedures for planning multinational peace support operations. Many Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations already contribute military forces for peace operations in Europe and throughout the world.
"The staff integration was simply phenomenal," said Col. Ed O'Neill, the Vermont Brigade Commander. Members of the foreign delegations fully integrated into the American forces headquarters, at both brigade and battalion level. Whether the command and staff was an American officer or Partner for Peace representative, all soldiers at Cooperative Nugget worked towards the common NATO procedures. "I didn't think that level of integration would have been possible, and these people did it," noted O'Neill.
Lt. Col. Ray Quinn, also of the Irish Defense Forces served as a deputy commander in the 86th Multi-National Brigade. "I am extremely impressed with the professionalism of the National Guard," he said during a press conference during the exercise. "Very fine fellows. They all have a good attitude, are highly motivated, and obviously well-trained." Quinn serves as chief instructor of the Command and Staff School for the Irish Defense Forces.
New York and Vermont National Guard soldiers traveled worldwide to prepare for the exercise, developing the peacekeeping scenario, a global communications architecture, and arranged life support for the hundreds of participants at the Army's Battle Simulation Center on Fort Drum.
The scenario began on Monday, June 24th with the simulated deployment of the multinational brigade to the fictional island of Aragon to conduct peace support operations that would separate combatants following a peace accord. Within hours, reports of insurgent activity and refugee needs flooded the brigade command post.
"The 86th Multi-National Brigade faced challenges in areas we normally would not devote so much attention to: civil military affairs, information operations, public affairs and psychological operations," said O'Neill. "The Europeans bring a lot of experience in peace operations, and we have learned much from them," he said.
"Peacekeeping is not a job for soldiers," said Lt. Col. Pietar Boikev from the Bulgarian delegation. "But ultimately it is something that only soldiers can do."
"We focused on command and control, interoperability, and communications management all under NATO operating procedures," said Col. Mark Heffner, Division Chief of Staff and Deputy Director of the exercise. "We executed this mission superbly and even had some fun," he said, "But most importantly, we forged not only a cooperative spirit, but new relationships and friendships that transcend this exercise and will endure beyond our time here at Fort Drum."
"One thing we've learned from this exercise is that ultimately, we are not that far apart," said Garrett at the Cooperative Nugget closing ceremony. "Our techniques may differ, but we have much in common in our profession of arms. We've learned that is we stay together and stay focused, we can communicate. And successful communication is the center of gravity for our command, control, coordination and intelligence activities," he said.
"A lot of people have done a lot of work to make this so successful," said O'Neill as the multinational brigade deactivated at the exercise closing ceremony. "Cooperative Nugget 2002 has been extremely rewarding and the exercise is something I know I'll take with me for the rest of my life."
Story and photos by Capt. Robert Giordano HQ, 42nd ID (M) FORT DRUM For the men and women of the 1st Battalion, 127th Armor, the sites and sounds of Fort Drum's Tank Range 23 are a far cry from where they, and so many others in the New York National Guard, were just a short eight months ago. Four hundred and seventy men and women of the Rainbow Division's tank battalion deployed to the North Country this May during one of the first annual training rotations for the summer of 2002.
The 1-127th Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Carl Pfeiffer recalls the contribution his unit made in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and said, "I am very proud of the performance of this battalion; however, those events definitely created a whole new ball game for us. Our battalion has been active in state emergencies before, but our involvement at the World Trade Center took more of an emotional price on us," Pfeiffer said. "Acts of God that result in natural disasters play on your mind differently than acts of terrorism."
The armor battalion, equipped with M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks as part of the 42nd Infantry Division's Third Brigade, is located throughout New York's Western Tier. Soldiers of the 1-127th are no strangers to state emergencies in New York and to the gunnery ranges of Fort Drum, but this years Annual Training was decidedly different.
Drum's Range 23 is a large caliber gunnery range, set up for the 1-127th in a four-lane configuration to access the battalion's thirty-two tank crews for Tank Table VIII. Tank Table VIII is a qualification test of the entire crew- driver, loader, gunner and tank commander all working together to engage targets and is recognized by the Army as a tough measurement tool for performance. Tank crews are scored for their performance. Targets appear in various configurations and distances and are scored for the crew in both moving and stationary engagements. The qualification gunnery is also conducted during the day as well as at night.
"the harder we train here, the better we will be when it counts" Maj. Roger Burch, Battalion Executive Officer or XO, describes Table VIII as one of the most challenging crew engagements where each of the ten engagements can be worth as much as 100 points; 1000 points are needed for a perfect score, 700 are points needed for a tank crew to qualify. The importance of each crew's performance is evident from the friendly but competitive ribbing that takes place in the motor pool after each engagement.
Tank qualification gunnery is an annual requirement for the soldiers of the 1-127th, but this is not the battalion's newest focus. While the live-fire gunnery of a tank battalion might be the most complex training for the Army National Guard unit, soldiers in the 127th Armor have a new appreciation for going back to the basics. After endless months supporting the various state and federal missions for Homeland Security, just bringing all the unit soldiers together has the enlisted and officers talking about one priority - Individual Skills. Individual soldier skills such as Common Task Training (CTT), individual and crew weapons qualification as well as troop leadership skills have taken center stage even as the battalion puts the finishing touches on tank qualifications.
Spec. Steven Lawrie, an ammunition loader in 2nd Lt. William Gourlay's tank believes he speaks for the entire unit when he says " the harder we train here, the better we will be when it counts."
By Major Richard Goldenberg Guard Times Staff FORT DRUM Soldiers from the 27th Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry took some time from annual training at Fort Drum, New York to welcome a new battalion commander on June 9th. Lt. Col. Raymond Shields, the outgoing commander of the 2-108th passed the unit colors to Col. Robert Schnurr.
Shields commanded the light infantry battalion since November of 1999, leading the unit for the brigade's deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk in the summer of 2001 and the battalion's support to Operation Noble Eagle following the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
Soldiers from the battalion deployed to airports throughout New York State for security missions and continue with their military presence at nuclear power plants and assisting the Justice Department along the Canadian border. Shields will continue his military career as the executive officer for the 27th Brigade in Syracuse.
Receiving the guidon in the Army tradition for assumption of command was Lt. Col. David Evangelista. He is a former active duty infantry officer whose duty positions in the National Guard include commands of Company B and Headquarters Company in the 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry, Operations officer and executive officer in the 1-108th, and operations officer in the 27th Brigade headquarters.
By Lt. Col. Paul Fanning Guard Times Staff CAMP SMITH, CORTLANDT MANOR Two dozen new National Guard officers took the oath of office before family and friends and then donned second lieutenant gold bars on Sunday, June 30 during the 49th Officer Candidate Program commencement at the 106th Regional Training Institute at Camp Smith.
Twenty-three members of the class of 24 are slated for positions in units of the New York Army National Guard. The participants came from around the state and completed a challenging 15-month program, which culminated in a commissioning ceremony at the Camp Smith military training post near Peekskill. The graduation was a milestone not just for the soldiers, but also for those closest to them.
"I am very proud of him. This is something he worked very hard to do and it was something he always wanted," said Kristin Reardon, the new wife of a new second lieutenant. Lieutenant Andrew Reardon and Kristin held their wedding on June 8, one week before Andrew left for Fort Benning to complete the OCS program. Andrew was the class "First Honor Graduate" and "Distinguished Infantry Branch Designee Award" recipient. Lieutenant Reardon, from Oyster Bay, Long Island is now assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry in Manhattan.
"I always wanted to lead soldiers," he said. "I saw an opportunity through OCS to get involved as a leader, and now I am in a better position to take the initiative, rather than just to be sitting back," said Reardon about his OCS decision following years of service as an enlisted soldier.
"He joined the Guard about five years ago, when we were first dating," said Kristin. "I knew this was something important to him and that he wasn't always going to be around," she added.
Major General Thomas MaGuire, New York's Adjutant General paused during his address to focus on the newly weds and called attention to the support that Kristin Reardon has already shown to her new husband. He presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
"This is about our families," said the general with reference to the Guard's overall mission, and then referred to families as priority number one. "We can't do our military jobs without support from home. And, here is the latest example," he said gesturing towards Kristin Reardon.Lieutenant Annette Skye assigned to Headquarters 27th Infantry Brigade was the class "Distinguished Leadership Graduate" and received an Association of the United States Army Award. Completing OCS is just her latest achievement. "I have always wanted to lead and I have been since becoming an NCO," said Lieutenant Skye, who has already served nine years in the Guard. "I knew that there was only so much I could do as an NCO. I came to OCS because I wanted to have a larger positive impact on the troops and mission," she said.
"I was not surprised at all that Skye's leadership potential would be seen," said Command Sgt. Maj. William Smith, from state headquarters and formerly with the 427th Support Battalion in Syracuse. That is where he first met Annette Skye, in his words, a soldier with a future and much to offer to the Guard. Smith looked on with satisfaction as Skye came forward for her awards and diploma. "I am proud of her. She has come a long way," he said.
A long way, indeed. "I moved from Canada to Syracuse with my mother when I was very young," said Skye, a Native American from the Cayuga tribe. In order to join the Guard she became a naturalized citizen and now works for the U.S. Postal Service. After several years as an enlisted soldier, she now begins a new career as an officer. "I had to go through a lot to get here," she said. "I am ready for what is next."
The officer candidate program identifies and selects future officers for the National Guard from among the enlisted ranks. This graduating class began the three-phase program with a pre-selection period last year and was followed by an intense 15 day Annual Training period last summer at Camp Rowland, Connecticut. Those who completed Phase I earned the right to continue through the 11-month Phase II, which is comprised of monthly drills at either Camp Smith or at the National Guard armory in Niagara Falls. Successful completion of Phase II entitled the troops to move to the grueling 15-day field phase conducted at the U.S. Army's Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The 106th Regional Training Institute based at Camp Smith, a part of The Army School System, operates the New York Army National Guard Officer Candidate Program, Noncommissioned Officer Education System and other military educational programs. The RTI shares responsibility for training soldiers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Guard Times Staff WESTHAMPTON BEACH Credit the New York Air National Guard's 106th Res cue Wing with three more saves. The Long Islandbased unit performed a high seas rescue in the North Atlantic in mid-May, rescuing three people from a yacht in distress in 30-foot waves and severe winds. With the May 16th rescue, the wing is now credited with saving a total of 292 lives at sea since it was organized as a rescue unit in 1975, according to Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire Jr., the State Adjutant General and New York Air National Guard Commander.
Three crewmembers of the craft, which was disabled and had broken its mast, were rescued from the water by pararescue personnel and taken aboard a HH-60 "Pave Hawk" helicopter. A C-130 fixed wing aircraft from the 106th and a refueling aircraft from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Stewart International Airport also participated in the rescue effort.
The radio call for help began a nine hour rescue mission for the pararescue jumpers, known as "PJs" who jumped into the cold North Atlantic waters to reach to foundering yacht, said Capt. John Schulz, a pilot of the rescue Pave Hawk helicopter. The rescuers swam about 60 yards in the high seas and carried the yacht crew away from the boat to hoist them back up to the hovering helicopter, Schulz said.
The 106th made the rescue in the North Atlantic at a point approximately 600 miles southeast of Long Island, about four hours after the rescue planes first took off from the Eastern Long Island air base. The helicopter had to be refueled three times while airborne to complete the mission.
The Air Rescue Wing and its crews were made famous the summer 2000 release of the Hollywood film, "The Perfect Storm." The film portrays the crew's efforts to conduct rescues in spite of 100-foot waves during a 1991 incident. In the course of that night, PJ Arden "Rick" Smith was lost when a Pave Hawk helicopter was forced to ditch at sea.
Maj. Gen. Maguire said, "The extraordinary is almost ordinary for the 106th, which makes it a habit of being where they are needed, when they are most needed."
The rescue wing airlifted the rescued crewmembers from the disabled, 50 ft. sea vessel to Shearwater in Nova Scotia, Canada. The rescued sailors were in good condition.
"The Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing has once again distinguished itself in a successful lifesaving effort requiring extraordinary bravery, skill and professionalism," said Governor George E. Pataki said. "The dedicated and courageous men and women of the New York Air National Guard continue to make all New Yorkers proud."
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell National Guard Bureau WASHINGTON, DC Their military duties have taken them to South Korea, the Philippines and Hawaii. One holds a degree in microbiology from Texas A& M. Another has worked with the United States Secret Service and the former Soviet Union's KGB. Yet another was nominated as teacher of the year for a high school in Connecticut before becoming a special education teacher in Maryland.
Those are just some of the milestones achieved by the foursome who make up the Air National Guard's outstanding airman and noncommissioned officers for 2002. The National Guard Bureau is honoring them in Washington, D.C., during June's second week.
They are: Airman of the Year - Senior Airman Jonathan Endicott from the Texas Air Guard's 273rd Engineering Installation Squadron. Noncommissioned Officer of the Year - Tech. Sgt. Caesar Kellum from the Florida Air Guard's Southeast Air Defense Sector at Tyndall Air Force Base. Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year - Master Sgt. Lester Enoch from the New York Air Guard's 106th Rescue Wing. First Sergeant of the Year - Master Sgt. Dorene Bosco from the Connecticut Air Guard's 103rd Fighter Wing.
Endicott and Bosco are traditional, or part-time, Guard members. Kellum and Enoch serve full-time with their units and spent a total of 13 years in the Air Force before joining the Air National Guard.
They were honored the second week in June with the Army National Guard's 16 soldiers of the year.
"You represent the best of the best in the Air National Guard," Davis told the four winners who, it was explained, were selected from a field of 160 candidates.
"Thanks for going the extra distance that you do," Davis added. "That's why we're a great a organization, and that's why we're a great country. Now you need to be ready to take more step and go one more mile."
Endicott, 26, is a satellitewide band specialist with the 273rd that is based at the Nederland Air National Guard Station in Beaumont, Texas.
Kellum, 29, is the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Airspace Division at the Southeast Air Defense Sector that plays a vital role in the Air Guard's air defense mission for the continental United States.
Enoch, 37, is a recruiter for the 106th Rescue Wing with well over 300 enlistments to his credit since August 1990. He joined the New York unit in 1989 after spending four years in Air Force law enforcement. That included a tour at Clark Air Base in the Philippines where he was directly involved in the evacuation of President Ferdinand Marcos who fled the country in February 1986.
Other high-profile assignments included being on the security team for former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to Washington, D.C., in December 1987. Enoch worked with U.S. Secret Service and Soviet KGB agents for that event. He is pursuing a master's degree in business and policy studies. He and his wife have two children.
Bosco, 35, joined the Connecticut Air Guard in April 1986 and returned to her home in 1994 after serving for two years with the Hawaii Air Guard. She has been the first sergeant for the 103rd Aircraft Generation Squadron at the Bradley Air National Guard Base for three years.
Enoch and Bosco are actively involved in efforts to bring greater diversity to the Air Guard's ranks. Their recognition as two of the Air Guard's outstanding enlisted people coincides with the National Guard Bureau's Year of Diversity.
Enoch belongs to his New York wing's Cultural Diversity Committee, and one of his articles, "Operation Diversity: At the Forefront of Cultural Awareness," has been published in the Air Guard's Diversity Digest. Bosco was co-founder of the Connecticut Air Guard's Diversity Day Program in 1999.
Guard Times Staff SYRACUSE Governor George E. Pataki visited the New York Air National Guard's 174th Fighter Wing in mid-May at Hancock Field, where he toured the base and met with families and members of the unit who have recently returned from overseas and stateside deployments in the war against terror.
Members of the 174th presented the Governor with an American flag flown by members of the unit over Afghanistan in honor of the Governor's leadership following the terrorist attacks. In turn, the Governor presented members of the 174th with a New York State flag and an American flag flown at Ground Zero in their honor.
"Since September 11, the airmen of the 174th Fighter Wing have put their lives on hold to bolster security at home and defeat terrorism abroad," Governor Pataki said. "During difficult times, their presence has helped restore New Yorkers' confidence in their safety, provided an effective deterrent against possible wrongdoing and helped our nation in its fight for enduring freedom.
"On behalf of all the people of New York State, I would like to thank the members of the 174th Fighter Wing for their dedication, sacrifice and professionalism," the Governor said. "They have accepted extraordinary missions and have done an extraordinary job."
At the base, the Governor also commended members of the F-16 fighter wing who flew combat air patrols over the east coast in the days and weeks after the September 11 attacks, and members deployed to New York City and around the nation as part of homeland defense operations.
Governor Pataki's visit to the 174th was the result of an e-mail message sent by a member of the unit, Senior Airman Ronald H. Atwood, who, along with deployed unit members, wanted to convey their message of pride to the Governor. Presenting the flag to the Governor was Airman Atwood and his fellow deployers Master Sgt. Mark Fassett and Master Sgt. Saverio Rotunno.
Beginning on September 11, members of the 174th Fighter Wing were deployed around the globe and nation in support of national command authority directives. Members of the security police forces involved in the flag presentation to the Governor departed Syracuse for southwest Asia on October 17 to provide security support to active duty Air Force units on the frontlines. As part of their responsibilities, these highly trained law enforcement specialists conducted vehicle searches, provided perimeter security and mobile patrols, manned security posts and assisted in the development of security strategy necessary for the protection of more than 1,500 deployed personnel at their classified location.
Domestically, members of the 174th deployed to ground zero with a National Guard Joint Task Force to provide perimeter security around the rescue and recovery site as well as personnel necessary to support Air and Army National Guard forces in and around lower Manhattan.
F-16 aircraft from the 174th took to the skies over New York City, beginning hours after the attack to ensure that there were no airborne threats to the people of New York. Currently, the wing has more than 100 members still deployed in support of homeland security and worldwide operations.
Story by Staff Sgt. Tracy A. Cain HQ, 107th ARW NIAGARA FALLS Training for war is what the 107th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) usually does. Going to war is what the 107th ARW is doing now. Shortly after the May drill, about 100 members of the 107th ARW left Niagara to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
The deployed members are headed to a classified location in the country of Oman where they will participate in refueling operations in the Southwest Asian theater. The amount of time members spend on a tour depends on their jobs. Some tours will be about 45 days while others may last up to six months.
All of the members on the deployment were volunteers. That says a lot considering they are giving up their summers here in Western New York. Chief Master Sgt. George Field, 107th Aircraft Generation Squadron (AGS), is an avid sailor and loves the summer but said the unit is doing its part and he's glad to be supporting it.
"I feel honored to be a part of this effort," said Field. "I feel like many of the people who volunteered for this mission, I want to go support my country in this effort. The angst of September 11th strengthened my resolve and this is a good way for me to participate."
Another long-time guardsman echoed that sentiment.
"I am proud and honored to go," said Tech. Sgt. William E. Sees, 107th Logistics Group. "Not only am I proud to be helping the War on Terror at Niagara, but now I actually get to see the end result of what I am doing. This is "real world" stuff and it's a great sense of accomplishment."
The 107th ARW is taking the lead on this rotation and several experienced troops are on the first planes out to set up shop in the arid climate of Southwest Asia.
"I've joked with the guys and called the first crew the "geriatric crew" because we're the older maintenance guys," said Master Sgt. Ralph W. Berry, 107th Logistics Group. "We're going in to set up and we'll be setting up with lots of experience."
Even with all that experience there will be several challenges facing the troops.
"I expect the biggest operational challenge to be the heat," said Berry who works directly with the fuel tanks on the aircraft. "Because the aircraft will be so hot during the day, we can't put people in the tanks (to perform routine maintenance) so we will have to schedule those types of jobs at night when it cools down."
"I am excited to go," said Senior Airman Dave Dixon, 107th AGS, "I am all for it, but I am a little bit nervous about the heat."
This will be Dixon's first deployment. He said he feels confident to be a part of this "real world" mission because of the training he's had here.
"I have a great supervisor who has really mentored me and helped me get ready for this deployment," Dixon said.
Senior Airman Jennifer Huber, 107th AGS, said she is more excited than nervous. Huber is another guardsman deploying for the first time and is eager to see how the unit adapts to the new conditions and circumstances.
"I just wonder how the maintenance facilities will be different and how that will affect our jobs," she said. Other challenges will be the terrain, stress from mission requirements and living in "tent city."
"I definitely think the main challenge will be the heat," said Senior Airman Nickolas Langenfeld, 136th Air Refueling Squadron "but there are other factors like longer sorties and the stress of living in tents. I am anxious to get there and do my job. We train for this, now we get to go and do it."
As the troops deployed, 107th ARW Wing Commander, Col. James W. Kwiatkowski stated "I could not be more proud of these men and women deploying in support of our nation's defense. We've been waiting for this opportunity to deploy overseas and support this endeavor. As New Yorkers we're also extremely proud to be representing our state in this fight against terrorism. I'm confident the members of the 107th will overcome every challenge and will do an outstanding job supporting Operation Enduring Freedom."
By Sr. Airman John Gassler HQ, 105th AW NEWBURGH The words printed below the American flag read, "In memory of the men and woman who perished." The colors have been hanging in the 105th Services Flight dining facility since Sept. 11.
Not far from that flag is a collage, a corkboard plastered with pictures and mass cards of deceased firefighters and police officers that died in the line of duty on 9-11. What started out as a simple tribute, slowly turned into a memorial shrine that honors Sept. 11 victims.
"Our base honor guard attended more than 60 funerals, and at each one it was amazing to see how many people were affected by a single death.
"Looking into the eyes of the deceased's children, you could feel the sorrow eating away at their hearts. This collage is for them, and for everyone else who lost a loved one on that tragic day," said Services Flight Superintendent and Honor Guard NCOIC, Senior Master Sgt. Larry Susi.
To Susi, the horrific events of Sept. 11 didn't seem real. "Watching the attack was like watching a movie, unreal, and I refused to believe it was actually happening," he said. His son Duane, a federal police officer patrolling the World Trade Center area when the attacks occurred, sustained minor injuries when the towers collapsed.
"My son was working in the city when the towers were struck, and I had no contact with him for nearly five hours. I know what it feels like to endure pain, even though God let my son survive. (Guard Times, Sep-Oct 2001)"
While looking into a myriad of smiling faces on the collage, Susi added, "I feel like there's a little piece of life still thriving in each picture, and anytime I pin a new photograph on the memorial, I release some of my pain bottled up inside from Sept. 11. I took the attacks personally as a New Yorker and as an American. I was deeply wounded, and it will take some time for me to heal."
Services Flight member and Honor Guard participant Sr. Airman Jennifer Behnke also helped construct the collage. She has attended 16 funerals and memorials because she feels it's important to show respect for our nation's fallen heroes. She also believes the 9/11 memorial is a patriotic symbol.
"The collage speaks a language all its own," said Behnke. "Everyone posted on it died because they were dedicated to their job. Our job in the military is to do the same thing, remain dedicated to America. That's what this memorial keeps reminding me of whenever I stop to look at it."
Few funerals the 105th Honor Guard attended had human remains present. Most of the firefighter's caskets were either closed or completely empty, their bodies yet to be unearthed from the World Trade Center rubble.
Inside the barren caskets, family members placed firefighter hats and baseball gloves to remind them of their lost loves, said Susi. For Services Flight members serving on the honor guard, their only form of contact with the departed were pictures.
"When I stare at the pictures on the collage, I see heroes that are full of life. Their spirit lives on even though they sacrificed themselves to save others. Even when I retire, I will stop in and take a peek at this memorial, to briefly remember what America stands for," said Susi.
The base honor guard is still attending funerals and memorials to honor fallen firefighters from the Hudson valley area, so the collage keeps growing, said Behnke. Never expecting it to become so huge, Susi says numerous Guardsmen have noticed the memorial in the dining facility.
"Many of our members have stopped and looked at the memorial on drill weekends, actually leaving their lunch trays on the table to read what's on the collage. It's just nice to know that people are recognizing these heroes," he added.
By Sr. Airman Ann-Marie Santa HQ, 105th AW NEWBURGH Boy Scout Troop 41 from Glenham School in Beacon, N.Y., gave the 105th a gift of two weeping cherry trees May 5 in honor of Staff Sgt. Jerome Dominguez, 105th Security Forces Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Andrew Brunn, 213th Engineering and Installation Squadron, both of whom were lost in the World Trade Center attacks. About 50 unit members attended the event.
Jan Ng, a copier services technician for Pitney Bowes who provides maintenance for the base's photocopiers, came up with the idea to plant the trees, which are located near the electronic sign at the front gate.
"The troop was doing plantings at the courtyard at school. I knew that a couple of airmen were lost on 9/11 and the idea to do this just came to me," said Ng. "I talked to a couple of sergeants that I knew around base and eventually I approached Donna Ruggiero, the commander's executive assistant, about it, and she introduced me to Lt. Col. (Charles) Faro (105th Vice Commander) who helped to make all this possible."
Ng, who is the assistant scoutmaster of Troop 41, said that when he brought up the idea of the group service project with the kids they were excited at the idea of taking a part in it. Fifteen troop members pitched in to plant the two trees and dedicate them with a plaque made by 16-year-old John Shekitka, a student at John Jay High School at Hopewell Junction.
The tribute was also particularly moving for members of the Security Forces Squadron (SFS) and the 213th Electrical Installation Squadron (EIS) who lost two of their co-workers.
"I think that it's very touching," said Tech. Sgt. Roberta Goodman of the 105th SFS. "Now that the funerals are over, we have some type of closure. Now we have something to remember them by."
Staff Sergeant Christopher Jespergard, a cable splicer in the 213th who was also Brunn's best friend, echoed Goodman's opinion of Troop 41's memorial.
"This is a great thing that the Boy Scouts are doing here and it's very much appreciated," Jespergard said. "It's a heart touching moment this is a living memorial here, and maybe one day, if I'm here long enough, I can sit under the shade of these trees and remember Andy. If he could see this, he would say that it was 'way cool.'"
By Staff Sgt. Steven Petibone Guard Times Staff HAMMELBURG, GERMANY The commander said it all. "This training is over and above anything that any of us have ever done, anywhere," said Capt. Christopher Cronin, commander for Company D, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment.
This was the overall sentiment of every infantryman in the 108th as they participated in an international soldier exchange program between the Republic of Germany and the New York Army National Guard.
The exchange program sent soldiers from both countries criss-crossing the Atlantic Ocean to experience a different training aspect. Forty-two German army reservists of the 761st Home Defense Battalion flew to Fort Drum to join the ranks of the New York Army National guard, while fiftyeight Guardsmen arrived at the Saaleck Kaserne, approximately four miles from Hammelburg.
The German army training tested the physical endurance of the American soldiers participating. Upon arrival in country, New York guardsman took the German version of our army physical fitness test (APFT).
The incentive to excel in the German APFT is to earn the German sports badge. This badge is categorized into an Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze award. The timed events consist of a 3 kilometer run, a 100-meter sprint, a 4.5 meter long jump, and a 7-meter shot put using a 16-pound shot. A final event that was reserved until completion of their field training exercise was the 15, 20, and 30-kilometer road march. Of the 58 soldiers that participated in all of the events, only 17 were qualified to earn the overall German Soldiers Award.
Likewise,for weapons qualification, which also breaks down into the gold, silver and bronze category, while competing for the German shooters badge, also referred to as the "Schuetzenschnur", using the G-3 Rifle and the MG- 3 Light Machine Gun.
After their physical endurance was tested, a greater task awaited them. Cleaning their weapons and packing their gear, Germans and Americans alike prepared to go to war together. Everyone was preparing to go to Bonnland.
Bonnland is a military training-site used specifically for military operations on urban terrain (MOUT) exercises. Of particular interest for the Guardsmen was the authenticity of the training site, because German residents once inhabited the village. During World War II, the village was vacated and the military used it specifically for Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training.
"Training in Bonnland is excellent because the buildings are so realistic," said Spec. Todd St. John, B Company, 2-108th. "In addition, this makes the training realistic because we had an opposing force that we weren't able to figure out."
Americans and Germans combined their forces then divided sides between aggressors and defenders. Defenders were taken to Bonnland and given two days to fortify their positions inside of houses using boxes, sandbags, camouflage netting and concertina wire in anticipation of an eminent attack.
The aggressors, or OPFOR, were taken approximately six miles away to make a tactical road march back toward the village. Along the way, they were ambushed, land-mined and shot at by "The Weasel", a 20- milimeter, self-propelled gun employed for infantry support.
As with any confrontational exercise, casualties are a routine matter. The Germans and Americans both learned valuable lessons about their strengths and weaknesses of fighting in urban terrain and about tactics and weapons systems from each other. "The German operations ordering process is different from ours," said Cronin. "The enlisted soldiers (Germans) tend to get their orders and then respond to them without much delay or dissemination. Our orders process, on the other hand, tends to be more in depth."
The Guardsmen in Germany expressed a natural camaraderie training with their German Infantry Reserve counter-parts. Both countries admonished the training as being valuable and would like to participate in future exchange programs.
By Master Sgt. Joseph P. Murray HQ, 42nd Infantry Division Engineer Brigade BUFFALO It is a celebration of remembrance for the brave service of men and women who gave their lives for their country. Numerous towns across Western New York celebrate annually with Memorial Day parades; all punctuated with colorful banners, marching bands and U.S. flags. On this year's Memorial Day, soldiers from the Rainbow DIvision's Engineer Brigade provided resources to conduct parades within three municipalities.
The day's activities began at 4:30 a.m. at the Connecticut Street Armory with troops arriving, vehicles dispatched, maintenance checks and weapons issue. After all the preexecution checks and safety brief, the details move out of the Connecticut Street Armory enroute to the Town of Colden.
At 8:45 a.m., the annual Memorial Day Parade, sponsored by the Town of Colden, steps off. The parade formed at the town highway department on route 240, then proceeded down route 240 to Town Hall for Memorial activities. At 10:00 a.m., the annual Memorial Day Parade in the Town of West Falls rolled towards the thier reviewing stand. The parade proceeded down State Road to Veterans Memorial Park for Memorial activities.
At 2:00 p.m., the annual Memorial Day Parade, sponsored by the Town of Boston culminated the day's events for the National Guard engineers. That parade proceeded down Route 391 to the Town Hall for yet a third memorial service supported by the Army National Guard.
At each municipality, local residents joined with veteran's organizations to salute fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation's freedom. The military was met with overwhelming applause and cheering.
Parents and children would come over to static displays of military equipment for soldier demonstrations. Many children would relate to the Rainbow Engineers the stories of their parents, all veterans of recent state disasters. How proud they are. They indicated that their parents were volunteer fireman, electricians that worked for Niagara Mohawk, nurses, health care workers, teachers at the local schools, Girl / Boy Scout Leaders, and that many others who volunteered or served their state during the Ice Storm of 1998 or the World Trade Center recovery of recent months.
Every story they told had a lesson. It felt good to be an American and a New Yorkder because, the only real heroes are those seen through the eyes of children.
Across the State of New York National Guard, Naval Militia and New York Guard members proudly joined in the weekend's commemorations. No doubt there are countless stories and photographs of parades and ceremonies stretching from the tip of Long Island to the North Country. For Western New Yorkers, the presence of the Engineer Brigade soldiers and their equipment served as another reminder of the continuing presence of the state's military forces both locally and statewide. Heroes all.
Guard Times Staff WEBETUCK The New York Army National Guard's 204th Engineer Battalion headquartered in Binghamton is conduct ing a series of community support projects around the state in the fifth year of Governor George E. Pataki's landmark "guardHELP" program.
First up was the Webutuck Elementary School in eastern Dutchess County, where 11 members of the battalion helped to create a new soccer field while performing military training. The troops brought along two bulldozers, a grader, a sheepsfoot and other vehicles to clear and level the 4 = acre area and provide drainage. Its good training for the young soldiers as they practice their skills with a real project.
Governor Pataki launched guardHELP in May 1998 to bring the Guard closer to local communities. Since then, the Guard has forged new community ties statewide and performed dozens of different non-emergency operations from environmental clean up efforts to construction projects. Both the Guard and the public benefit through joint action projects and the close interaction of each project. The "HELP" in guardHELP stands for "Hear," "Educate," "Link," and "Partner." The program is credited with bringing local communities closer to their National Guard.
Each project had been extensively planned, screened, reviewed and approved through the Department of Defense. Each project not only returns value to the community, but also meets military training requirements of the 204th. The troops completed their project the following week.
Story by Spec. Kathleen Edgcomb 138th MPAD NIAGARA FALLS After 10 weeks of vigorous military and physical training, cadet candidates from the 3rd Regiment Niagara Falls Corps of Cadets graduated from entry-level training to become full fledged cadets.
In front of family, friends, cadre and the Niagara Falls mayor, Irene Elia, 45 cadets graduated in a military-style ceremony May 6 at the Niagara Falls Armory.
"This graduation is important because these are the first graduating cadets for the 3rd Regiment in Niagara Falls," said Staff Sgt. Robert Nolan, unit administrator for 3rd Regiment Corps of Cadets. "Whenever anyone graduates we make a big deal about it. After all, it is like graduating from basic training."
The entry-level training program is a ten-week program geared towards helping kids become leaders, Nolan said. "Entry level training is similar to basic training," said Nolan. "The cadets learn military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremony, a chain of command at peer level, the cadet creed and code of conduct and military physical training. They must also pass a written exam with a score of 70 or above to graduate."
"Corps of Cadet is a drug-free youth group," explained Capt. Michael Imagna, New York National Guard Counter Drug task force, western region commander. "We provide a place for youths to go for a three hour period. They learn life skills and refine their self discipline."
"It's a program for kids who want something and want to get somewhere," he added. "We're placed in at-risk communities so kids can learn in a safe place."
"The Corps of Cadets provides kids an alternative to drugs and violence," said Nolan, who hopes to do just that. In the western region of New York there are four corps, said Imagna. In all, there are 21 corps throughout the state. Niagara Falls was chosen for the Corps of Cadets program because it is a major metropolitan area that did not already have one of the youth groups, said Imagna.
The western region consist of four major cities and it was natural to establish a corps here because Niagara Falls has a large population of at risk youths that the organization can help.
"We formed a partnership with HUD (Housing & Urban Development) to use their facilities and recruit from their area," said Imagna. "It was a natural marriage." "What makes Corps of Cadets so successful is the kids have the ability to progress through the ranks and learn skills they can't get anywhere else," said Imagna. "It's a program where they are given the ability to develop themselves as young leaders."
"This is a great program for Niagara Falls and for our children," said Richard Rinker, chairman of the parents association, a not-for-profit organization that supports the Corps of Cadets. "It teaches the children discipline, respect, and structure in a safe environment. The children are aware of the consequences of their behavior."
"Corps of Cadets has changed our kids' attitudes at home," added Tina Fain, secretary of the parents association. "This is well supervised. The kids have learned that the rules don't bend. If you don't like it you leave."
"Many of these children aren't jocks, musicians or into art. They don't belong to a clique in school," said Fain. "Corps of Cadets is an activity that that they can feel is theirs; it's something they can belong to."
"The Corps of Cadets gives each child an opportunity to excel equally," said Rinker. "They work hard to advance themselves through the ranks. Their rate of advancement is up to them depending on how hard they work. If they don't try they don't go anywhere."
Many cadets initially joined because they were intrigued by the military. But they ended up learning much more. David Enderton, 14, the 3rd Corps of Cadet honor grad, does not regret joining Corps of Cadets. "I have always wanted to join the Air Force," he said. "This lets me experience what its like. Here we learn leadership, discipline and respect, things we need to learn."
first entry level training graduation ceremony this spring. "I joined because I always liked the Army," said 13-yearold Brandon Baird. "Corps of Cadets has helped me grow a lot and learn manners. I work harder now."
Many kids are looking for the discipline and structure that our Corps of Cadet program offers them, said Col. David Slocum, Director of Counter Drug Task Force.
"When helping kids, we have learned that long term intervention is the way to go," said Slocum.
By Sgt. Matthew Johnson Guard Times Staff CAMP SMITH There is a high school drop out in your town or city. A teenager walking the streets at night. Drugs and gangs waiting in the darkness. Parents fearfully waiting for a knock on the door or the phone to ring. They think, "Where is my child?" Then comes the knock on the door. On the other side is the man in blue, maybe jail, then the judge.
There is an alternative. It is a youth program in New York State called ChalleNGe that operates with the support of the New York National Guard. It's a way to get young people off the streets and give them a second chance at life and the future.
On June 21, 75 cadets from class 18 had their day for a new beginning. A day of anticipation and happiness. The day they've worked for six months to get the diploma. Now they take a road into the future. A future of twists and turns, highs and lows. ChalleNGe is a program that provides the tools to work through the problems in life that we all must deal with.
ChalleNGe is more than just theprogram name. It's a kickstart to the future that takes teens who didn't finish high school and gives them a second chance. It takes an investment of time from both cadet and parents to get through the difficulties. Joseph Coleman of Buffalo noticed the difference in his brother George right away during the two visits home during the ChalleNGe program. "There was a maturity in my brother, a solid change," he said. "Before entering the program he would hang out in the streets, not really paying attention to what the family was trying to tell him. Now he has new hope for a different life from that in the street."
George Coleman's mother, Linda Isley, said that he is doing well and that George has more self-respect than ever before. She would love to see him in military or in a career. Now that George has received his GED, ChalleNGe is the best thing that happened to him and the family, she said.
Rehab Dalia, another proud parent at graduation, stated that ChalleNGe "helped my son David get control of his temper. Before coming here he was a lost soul, angry and not knowing how to reach out. The staff was a great help in getting his life together," she said. "They didn't give up on him so now he won't give up on himself."
The ChalleNGe program moves forward this summer to prepare for Class 19. With more than a thousand graduates and counting, ChalleNGe has a staff that cares and helps pull out what a young teenager already has inside but does not yet know to express to others or to themself: RESPECT.
Naval Militia Friends and Family, I've been on the ground here in East Timor, Indonesia for just over a week now, but it seems like a life time. Just two weeks ago, I was home (briefly) watching my children playing baseball. This trip should only be 3 to 4 months, so time should go by quickly.
Now, before any of you take a vacations in the future - please let me know since I know the places that you DON'T want to go to!! East Timor (ET) [or what we refer to as Club ET] is somewhat like a Guam environment, just hotter!! I was told we are past the rainy season, but it did rain for 26 hours straight two days ago. Then the hot sun came back out and the humidity started up again.
I enclose a photograph of a local Timorese child and I standing outside the Suai medical clinic that we are completing an engineering assessment to repair in September this year.
Hope all is well with everyone and enjoy your summer.
Regards, Lt. Donald C. Panthen Engineer Planner U.S. Naval Reserve N.Y. Naval Militia
By Lt. Mark Cassidy NY Naval Militia BUFFALO In mid to late April, Seabees from the NY Naval Militia Construction Battalion, unit 203 in Buffalo began what became known as Operation Beaver.
The GuardHELP project assisted the City of Buffalo Parks Department recover from a disastrous and damaging winter.
Buffalo city parks, suffering under the impact of ice and wind storms and an eight foot snow fall this winter, were lieft in shamles with fallen trees, limbs, and washed out embankments. The financiallystrapped city turned to the New York National Guard for help. With the springtime opening of the parks just weeks away. The Naval Militia Seabees swung into action.
Unit 203, under Commander Thomas Hurley's leadership, organized recovery and work teams for deployment throughout the city. With equipment provided by the Army National Guard's 152nd Engineer Battalion, the Seabees had the front end loaders and five ton dump trucks to help the city parks shape up for summer.
Additional support came from Senior Steelworker Chief Peter Kuczkowski, who spent two days at the 152nd armory in Buffalo to straighten and weld a damaged loader bucket for the operation.
Field operations with the city's Parks Department were under the direction of EO2 James Erhardt. A total of 332 man hours to remove debris and clear the city parks were achieved in four short days.
The project exemplified the spirit of cooperation that exists not only within the New York National Guard, but the strong ties that the Naval Militia and National Guard have with communities like Buffalo throughout New York State.
Guard Times Staff CAMP SMITH Once again the hills surrounding Camp smith rang with the sounds of shooting competition as the Adjutant General hosted New York State's 2002 TAG Combat Matches. 300 participants representing each of the components of military service residing in New York State came together from 26-28 April 2002 to compete in combat rifle, pistol and light machine gun matches.
"This is the only training event in the state where all the branches of service participate," said Major Bruce Olsen, the New York State Marksmanship Coordinator.
In spite of the level of mission taskings brought on by the events of September 11th, the matches were well attended. "The matches are very popular with many of our troops. Not only are the matches an excellent training event, they are a morale builder, where the troops can engage in healthy competition in a relaxed atmosphere," Olsen said.
The matches are open to any member of the various military units residing within New York State. Competition consists of both individual and team matches fired over a two-day period, usually scheduled for the last weekend in April each year.
Result included awards across the entire military forces of New York State. Highlights included: Combat Rifle State Champion - Sr. Airman H. Lange, 105 SFS, NYANG Team Champions - Sgt. First Class Smith/Staff Sgt. Najdzion/ Spec. Luenski/ Spec. Rose from Det. 2, Company A, 204 Engineer Battalion, NYARNG Rifle High Novice - Staff Sgt. G. Cross, Company A, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry, NYARNG Combat Pistol State Champion - Capt. D. Dudziak, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 127th Armor, NYARNG Team Champions - Senior Master Sgt. Fedor/Master Sgt. King/Sgt. Major Tautznik/Staff Sgt. Desrosier from 109th Airlift Wing, NYANG Pistol High Novice - Sgt. First Class D. Banning, Company B, 152nd ENgineer Battalion, NYARNG Light Machine Gun State Champion - Spec. J. Potzler, Company B, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry, NYARNG Team Champions - Staff Sgt. Perkins/Master Sgt. Dellio from the 109th Airlift Wing, NYANG LMG High Novice - Spec. P. Walter, Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, NYARNG
Units are encouraged to begin to plan and practice for next year's competition scheduled for April 25-27, 2003. The program containing match rules, courses of fire and registration materials will be mailed to all units in January 2003
Story by Pvt. Dennis Gravelle Guard Times Staff ALBANY With threatening clouds and roars of thunder The Adjutant General- Major General Thomas Maguire orders the Joint Military Honor Guard to post the colors. The World War 11 Memorial Dedication commences. With precision moves, soldiers and airman from the New York National Guard march to the pristine Memorial. Once in place with veterans and onlookers watching intently, the 199th New York National Guard Army Band plays the Star Spangled Banner.
During the week of May 27-31, 2002 the Division of Military and Naval Affairs along with the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs and other state agencies in a week-long commemorative dedicated to WWII veterans. The New York Army National Guard provided personnel to stage, secure, and man static equipment and display booths during this event.
Thousands of veterans from WWII, Vietnam and Korea gathered next to the New York State Museum to observe the dedication of the WWII Memorial on May 30th. The memorial was built to "pay tribute to the 1.7 million New Yorkers whose heroism and sacrifice helped win the Second World War. By preserving their legacy for future generations, we will ensure that their patriotism and bravery are never forgotten" stated Governor George Pataki. Of the 1.7 million New Yorkers who served 61,997 were wounded and 37,659 lost their lives defending the nation.
Both modern day Army National Guard commands, the 27th Infantry Brigade and the 42nd Infantry Division deployed for combat action during the the war before returning to their National Guard roots after the war. The plaza at the State Capital buildings in Albany held a number of static displays of modern era National Guard vehicles, including an M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, a 105mm Howitzer, an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter, and numerous HMMWV and HEMTT vehicles.
For most Americans, the war started an early Sunday in December 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor killing over 2000 service members and civilians. It continued until the Japanese accepted the allied forces surrender terms on August 14, formally signing them on September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo, Harbor.
Col. John Edwards (retired) served with the 8th Air Force. During his 24th mission his plane was shot down over Germany and taken as a prisoner of war. With tears in his eyes and hardly able to talk he stated "You will never know what it is like to see the American Flag flying overhead after being a POW, it's a great feeling. I'm proud to be an American; this is a great Memorial."
The centerpiece of this monument is a turbulent pool of water, divided into two segments symbolizing a world divided. The pool is surrounded by a cobblestone walkway representing the rough and difficult road many had to endure. The monument is crowned by a large, stainless steel eagle, in an attack position over a globe, signifying the strength of the United States and our efforts to defend Democracy around the world. The wings of the eagle form the recognizable WWII symbol "V" for Victory.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Governor Pataki and Adjutant General Maguire placed a wreath of remembrance to honor the fallen and all veterans of World War Two.
The WWII Memorial is located on Madison Avenue in Albany next to the New York State Museum.
By 1st Lt. Andrea E. Bauer HQ, 107th ARW NIAGARA FALLS What seemed like a typical ride home for a member of the 107th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls, N.Y., quickly turned into a rescue effort that would define "being in the right place, at the right time" for him. Staff Sgt. Mike Hicks was passing through Ogden, N.Y., Tuesday, June 4, 2002, when he saw a woman in the street attempting to flag him down.
When Hicks pulled over, he saw that there had been a two-car collision in a nearby intersection. The driver of one car was dazed but appeared to be okay. The driver of the other car was unconscious and a fire had started in his vehicle.
Another rescuer, Army National Guard Capt. Mike Charnley, had been walking with his wife when he heard the crash and responded. Charnley made several attempts to bring water from a nearby pool to try and extinguish the fire but was unsuccessful. Charnley's wife, Karen, flagged down Hicks and asked for his help.
Charnley and Hicks were unable to get the unconscious victim out from the front doors of his vehicle because of damage caused by the accident -they had to pull him over the seat and out through one of the back doors. Then, fearing that the fire may cause the vehicle to explode, they quickly carried the man to safety.
"They did what they had to do and it's a good thing they did," said Greg Harmer, fire chief of Churchville, N.Y., in a story for the Rochester, N.Y. newspaper: The Democrat and Chronicle. "It's hard to say whether [the victim] would have made it if they hadn't pulled him out." Harmer added.
"I was just happy to be in the right place at the right time," Hicks said. "I just got all pumped up and reacted. I did what I thought needed to be done," he added.
Hicks is not a trained rescuer or medic. He is an aircraft maintenance journeyman with the 107th ARW Aircraft Generation Squadron. But not surprisingly, he has a reputation for getting the job done. "[Hicks] is a quiet guy, but when given a task he can be counted on to step up to the plate," said his supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Florian Matuszewski. "It doesn't surprise me at all that he would be willing to risk his own life to help another human being." Matuszewski added.
The accident victim was later treated and released with only minor injuries. "The flames and smoke were pretty intense when we were pulling him out of the vehicle. I was glad to hear that he was going to be okay," said Hicks.
By Sgt. First Class Corine Lombardo HQ, 42nd ID (M) NEW YORK CITY After dealing with the death, destruction and painful memories of “ground zero” for nine months, sol diers of the 42nd Infantry “Rainbow” Division experienced a rainbow of hope in the form of a red-haired fouryear- old little boy who lives thousands of miles away from lower Manhattan.
Tryston DeGarmo is the son of Spec. Michelle DeGarmor, a member of the 92nd Troop Command in the Nebaaska National Guard. He suffers from a rare congenital defect. Tryston was diagnosed in late December 2001 with arterio venous malformation (AVM) in his brain, an extremely rare abnormality caused by the presence of to many blood vessels.
Through a series of tests and surgical procedures, doctors in Lincoln, Nebraska stabilized his condition, but it became evident that a great deal more was needed. Unable to provide the level of care Tryston needed at home, his family was immediately referred to specialists in New York. “We were told about Dr. Alejandro Berentstein of Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, who is considered to be the expert in AVM patients. Dr. Berentstein has written complete textbooks about the condition,” Degarmo said. “Our doctor called out to see if he could recommend a surgeon to take our case.
“A few days later we received a call from (Berentstein) saying that he had reviewed Tryston's case and that he wanted to see us,” she said. “I found out later that he only takes the most difficult cases and refers the others to his assistants. So, I guess it's an honor that he took our case.”
With the right doctor, the family began to concentrate on getting to Manhattan. Affording the travel and stay were just one more issue to deal with and that is where the Rainbow Division and the New York National Guard stepped in to help.
It began with a simple email from DeGarmo, a social services assistant in the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and Administration Office in Nebraska where she works full-time. She often works with family members and spouses dealing with numerous issues associated with separation from service members during military deployments. Working with Sgt. Maj. Robin Lahm, Nebraska's family resource coordinator, they routinely provide critical information to families to help locate the assistance they need. Lahm contacted the New York Family Program Coordinator, Sgt. Maj. Charles Steele and explained DeGarmo'' situation. Steele then put out an email to members of the New York Family Advocacy Group network, requesting help for the family of the Nebraska Guard soldier.
Although her home state National Guard provided invaluable emotional and financial support through cards, emails, and local fund-raising to offset some of Tryston's medical costs, there was still a great deal ahead still to overcome.
Through Sgt. Maj. Steele, DeGarmo contacted Chaplain (1st Lt.) Scott A. Kovalcik, the battalion chaplain for the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry on Staten Island. The unit is an armor battalion assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division's Third Brigade and was supporting state active duty missions in New York City over the winter.
Upon arrival in the state in late February, the chaplain greeted DeGarmo, Tryston and a family friend as they disembarked from their flight flown by volunteer pilots. Kovalcik and his chaplain's assistant, Private First Class Frantze Pierre-Louis quickly drove the three to New York City's Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen's Club where they had arranged a three day stay for the visitors. Shortly thereafter, Kovalcik coordinated for the group to obtain reduced cost billeting at Fort Hamilton, located in Brooklyn. Kovalcik also raised funds to pay for DeGarmo's stay in the city through donations collected between the Fort Hamilton post chaplain and his own congregation at his home town's Family of God Community Church of the Nazarene in Syracuse.
“It's a military thing. We're all part of the Army and we take care of our own,” said Kovalcik. “It is something that every good soldier knows - that when somebody is hurting, it is your responsibility to help him or her no matter what your own personal problems are,” he said.
In addition to paying their hotel expenses, the chaplains chauffeured the DeGarmos, including picking up Tryston's father, Daniel at the airport and shuttling them between Fort Hamilton and the hospital, saving them the expense of cab fare.
“He did so much for us, I really can not begin to put into words how much he came to mean to me and my family,” DeGarmo said. “I've also learned about what it means to be in the Guard,” she said. “That it truly is a family.”
DeGarmor andTryston quickly established a routine of daily outpatient visits to Beth Israel Hospital, meeting with the surgeons and preparing for surgery. While operating, the surgeons discovered a large pool of blood that had developed over much of the left side of his skull, which required additional surgery with days to remove. In all the surgeries were successful and like most children, Tryston was running through the hallway of the hospital within days. Tryston returned to New York in May for additional procedures, just one more of several he may face in the future, since his AVM can be treated as yet not cured.
“In a way, it was cathartic,” Kovalcik said. “After all that we as a military unit in New York City went through, this really seemed to help, I can't tell you how many soldiers have come up to me and asked how that sick little boy is doing. I think people really rallied in his support as a way of coming to grip with all we've done since September 11th.”
Kovalcik himself was among the first to be called to duty following the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. His Army National Guard battalion mobilized to assist in New York City's recovery efforts. He arrived in lower Manhattan just seven hours after the deadly attacks and immediately went to work at a nearby morgue where he performed countless last right rituals for the victims of the attack. Although assigned to the 101st Cavalry, Kovalcik and Pierre-Louis volunteered to remain on State Active Duty through the winter and into the spring when soldiers from the Rainbow Division's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry took over the support missions in New York City.
“Helping people out is why we put on the uniform,” Kovalcik said. “You know, when people would stop us near ground zero and thank us for being there, or a young child would smile at us, it all helped us understand what is was we were being called upon to do.”
By Capt. Michael Conner Family Action Office Pennsylvania National Guard "The Real Heroes" Lately everybody thinks I'm a hero. People that I have never seen before thank me for serving our nation. They pat me on the back and wish me good luck. I saw those same emotions during the Gulf War. That's when I realized it's easy to be a hero when you wear this uniform. The military provides us with the training and the opportunity to be a hero. But since then I have begun to realize who the real heroes are.
It is your 68-year-old neighbor who shovels your snow because he knows you are away on state active duty. It is your son who tells you it's OK when you tell him you missed his first goal because you were at annual training. It is your daughter who is at that age that, no matter what, she and her mother can't get along. Yet, after dinner, she gets up and does the dishes to help Mom because you are securing our nation's airports.
It is the school teacher who videotapes you child's play so that you can see it when you return home from your sixmonth long peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.
It is your spouse who has just had the most challenging day of her life. You know, the kids were screaming all day, the water heater blew up and the baby was up all night because he's teething. The spouse who just put the baby to sleep, lies down in bed, reflects on the day's events, and begins to cry herself to sleep. The phone rings and it's you, calling from somewhere with a six-hour time difference. You tell your spouse you're OK and ask, "How is everything?" Your spouse wipes away the tears and tells you not to worry, that everything is fine.
You see, it's easy to be a hero because you love this nation and what it represents. But our families are truly the real heroes because they love us for the individuals we are and what we represent.
By Col. Robert M. Edelman VALHALLA The winner of the latest 53rd Troop Command full-time staffing (FTS) Achievement Award is Sgt. First Class James Perez of the 719th Transportation company. Perez was selected from nine nominees received at the 53rd Troop Command Headquarters. All nominees extremely deserved recognition of their efforts, so the choice was a difficult one.
Perez was recently reassigned to the 719th Transportation Company at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City and made an immediate impact on the Army National Guard unit. He instituted several positive changes in the way the company addressed unit training as well as company logistical and administrative requirements.
He created new unit standard operating procedures (SOPs) and updated those that were out of date. His efforts were instrumental during a recent unit training evaluation. During that inspection, the 719th received seven out of seven GOs (passing scores).
Perez is a dedicated and tireless working full-time staffer who is highly deserving of this award. He is a tremendous asset not only to his company but also his battalion.
By Capt. David Albano Guard Time Staff NEW YORK CITY Major General Thomas P. Maguire, the Adjutant General (TAG) led a Professional Development Conference at the Park Avenue armory in New York City in early June. Over two hundred officers and NCO's of the New York State Army and Air National Guard, Naval Militia, and New York Guard attended. The selection of this site was not coincidental. "New York City was an appropriate location," said Maguire, "it reflects on the awesome accomplishments of your commands over the past nine months."
The conference, in conjunction with Militia Association of New York's annual state conference was designed as an opportunity for face-to-face contact between the TAG and subordinate leaders statewide to discuss past accomplishments and future challenges.
Governor George E. Pataki, state Commander-in-Chief came on Saturday, June 8th to address the assembled leaders and then thanked them for their dedication and service, past and present. The Governor pinned state military awards on more than a dozen task force leaders and staff members for their 9-11 response efforts.
Colonel Ray Doyle, commander of the 42nd Aviation Brigade said, "This does a lot for the morale of the troops. It's where issues can be addressed and talked about." Nothing could be closer to the truth. There was a litany of activity prior to, and following each briefing. Commanders and staffs from all state services interacted, forged relationships, and exchanged ideas.
When asked what outcomes he envisioned, the TAG replied, "I have three goals. First, I want to nurture a common sense of cohesiveness. Second, I wish to celebrate the military as a family, and finally I wish to posture for the future." Much of the weekend centered on various presentations from military and government offices from New York State's military forces and city, state, and federal agencies regarding the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center in Manhattan with suggestions for improved future response efforts. "The Department of Defense strategy in response to September 11th continues to evolve," Maguire said. "We need to work together with both our state and federal chains of command to ensure that we are positioned to offer the greatest return on investment for those we support, be it the nation, state, or community."
Other subjects addressed included future base closure committees and the Army's Division Redesign Study for force structure changes in the 27th Infantry Brigade.
The conference clearly stressed the necessity for joint force efforts. Most attendees agreed that improved knowledge is needed on how to work together more efficiently, effectively, and cooperatively.
"This conference strengthens bonds between the forces," said Naval Militia Commander Michael Collins. "It is imperative that we meet before operations to build trust. We must train our junior military personnel to do the same; because our junior leaders and joint force efforts solidify our mission."
Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY Governor George E. Pataki on June 8 presented the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal to 16 Air and Army National Guard, Naval Militia and New York Guard officers for outstanding leadership commanding troops on missions from the September 11 attacks.
"These military officers provided the critical leadership that helped make the largest and most challenging deployment in the history of our State's militia forces a tremendous success on all fronts," Governor Pataki said. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am honored to recognize their exemplary service with these Conspicuous Service Medals.
The Conspicuous Service Medal is the second highest military award presented by the State of New York.
"Since the World Trade Center attacks, 14,000 men and women in our State's military forces have put their lives on hold to serve New York and our nation. There isn't a National Guard force in the nation that has done more to keep their state and country secure and help win the war on terrorism."
The Governor made the presentations at The Adjutant General's Leadership Conference held at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan.
Governor Pataki presented the Conspicuous Service Medal to the following officers:
As part of the State's homeland security efforts and as part of the federal Operation Noble Eagle, troops were also deployed to 20 airports throughout the State, four nuclear power plants, and at bridges, tunnels, and the two major train stations in New York City.
Troops from all five Air National Guard wings mobilized to support various foreign and domestic missions in support of both Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.
In addition, New York Army National Guard troops have been deployed at the Canadian Border and various federal installations including West Point and Fort Drum.
Currently, about 2,300 New York National Guard troops are deployed both in State Active Duty and federal duty status.
Members of the New York Air and Army National Guard, Naval Militia and New York Guard who conducted homeland security missions following the September 11 attacks will be eligible for the newly created state Defense of Liberty Medal.
Criteria for the award includes service for homeland security anywhere in New York State since September 11, 2001. Those individuals performing a minimum of seven days duty in the borough of Manhattan will receive the WTC device for the medal (as shown in the graphic above). The seven duty days need not be consecutive.
"We actually began work on this back on September 16th, less than a week after the Guard's response in New York City," said Chief Warrant Officer Charles Amoroso of the State Office of Military Awards. "The command knew this was bigger than any Aid to Civil Authority or Humane Service recognition. I'm glad to see it finally in production for the troops."
The Defense of Liberty Medal is expected to be available to unit commanders this fall.