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By Lt. Col. Paul Fanning Guard Times Staff NEW YORK CITY The crisis response by the New York National Guard following the Sep tember 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center has given way to an unprecedented activation of combat troops for extended periods of active duty in America's latest war.
Never before have so many National Guard troops been activated for months of duty, in both state and federal status within the state's borders. And when the numbers of New York Air National Guard personnel activated for federal service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are considered, New York has the distinction of having forces mobilized at home and abroad simultaneously.
Early in October, while the main emergency response effort was moving into its second month in New York City, more than 400 troops of the 27th Separate Infantry Brigade (Enhanced) were placed on federal duty under state control to serve as security guards at nineteen commercial airports around the state. This was in response to the call by President George W. Bush in late September, inviting the nation's governors to activate their National Guard personnel in order to provide additional security at the nation's airports, and to do so at federal expense. The New York National Guard deployed its troops over the weekend of October 5 through 7 following completion of Federal Aviation Administration- led training conducted at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.
"Our security mission at the airports may not be the most glamorous, but it is effective," said Chief Warrant Officer Jeffrey Schirmer, a platoon leader from 427th Forward Support Battalion at New York's LaGuardia Airport. "The troops are reminded to be alert for anything out of the ordinary. We instill the attitude in every soldier that on their watch, there will be no breach of security," he said.
Days later, Task Force Orion's numbers swelled as Governor George E. Pataki ordered more than 160 additional 27th Brigade troops into State Active Duty to secure the state's four nuclear power plants. On October 27th, two hundred members of Companies A and B, 1st Battalion 69th Infantry from New York City and Bayshore, Long Island were federally activated for a six-month tour to provide additional security at the United States Military Academy at West Point. These troops completed post mobilization training at Fort Dix, New Jersey and deployed to West Point on Monday, November 12.
After more than eight weeks of emergency operations in Manhattan, the New York National Guard replaced Joint Task Force 42 and reactivated the 1st Battalion 101st Cavalry and the 442nd Military Police Company for sustained support to civil authorities. Both units had already served duty in New York city following the attacks.
Task Force Wingfoot was ordered to mandatory State Active Duty for 90 days, which began in early November. The mission is to support the New York City Police Department with ongoing security operations at the city's bridges, tunnels, train stations and at the World Trade Center disaster site. Task Force Wingfoot troops conduct armed patrols at Grand Central Station and Penn Station, and operate security posts and motor vehicle inspection sites at Manhattan's Midtown Tunnel and the Williamsburgh, Queensboro, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Task force personnel also provide additional perimeter security and identification check support at Ground Zero.
The cavalry troops and MPs were chosen for this armed security mission based on their familiarity and training with the M9 Beretta 9mm pistol. These troops recently renewed their weapons qualification training and underwent training with the NYPD on mission requirements and rules of engage- ment. Task Force Wingfoot also includes additional manpower and logistical support personnel from units of the 53rd Troop Command.
As Thanksgiving approached, the President called upon the states to bolster National Guard security efforts at commercial airports and New York responded by assigning an additional 80 personnel to Task Force Orion. Thus up to 488 troops were available through the holiday season in accordance with President's authorization.
The duties, until now confined to passenger checkpoints, expanded to include security at curbside, parking areas, runway access ramps, airport perimeter and commercial aviation support facilities on airport property. These additional needs supported according to input from each airport.
"We often get comments from passengers asking us why New York's airports seem to have tougher security than elsewhere," said Staff Sgt. Glenn Schumacher, on duty at LaGuardia Airport in Queens. "With the New York skyline forever changed, its no surprise to us," he said.
All told, more than two thousand New York Army National Guard troops continue to serve on duty up through the holiday season and well into the New Year. Not since World War II has the New York National Guard been deployed in such numbers for such an Home Security Throughout NY State, Cont'd from Page One... extended period of time participating in both state homeland defense and federal military operations.
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State Extends Tuition Program into 2002 ALBANY - Governor George E. Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced this fall legislation that provides an additional $300,000 in funding to support the National Guard college tuition program.
"This agreement will ensure that the comprehensive education benefits the State has offered the men and women of New York's National Guard will continue under the existing program," Governor Pataki said. "As we have been reminded countless times during the last several weeks, our National Guard members are one of our most vital and important assets, and I am pleased that we have reached bipartisan agreement to ensure that this important program continues without interruption."
Senate Majority Leader Bruno said, "We made a promise and we're going to keep that promise. Now, more than ever, we need to reward people who join the National Guard. They are our friends and neighbors who stand by us in times of crisis and covering the cost of their tuition is a small price to pay."
Assembly Speaker Silver said, "Given the unprecedented responsibilities the New York National Guard members are being asked to carry out, it is only fitting that the State live up to its own responsibility to the Guard members by ensuring that their educational endeavors are supported."
The funding will be provided to the State Division of Military and Naval Affairs to support ongoing tuition assistance benefits and to ensure that nearly 300 National Guard members receive their expected benefits under the tuition program.
In 1996, Governor Pataki and the Legislature enacted legislation that created the National Guard Recruitment and Retention Incentive Program. The program provides tuition assistance to more than 1,500 members of the National Guard per semester to attend college, as guaranteed under the program.
The Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program is widely recognized as a national success, credited with reversing a long-term decline in the force strength of the New York National Guard which had dwindled to less than 80 percent of that authorized by the federal military. Less than three years after the inception of the program, force strength stood at almost 95 percent of that authorized. In addition, as the program provides a better educated Guard force, it is regarded as having increased the overall quality of Guard membership.
The legislation agreed to by the Governor and Legislature will take effect immediately and will not have any significant affect on the State's financial plan for the current 2001-02 fiscal year.
Disney Offers Discount to Guardsmen on Active Duty
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL- To honor American men and women fighting for freedom, the Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort announced this December a program that allows active U.S. military personnel complimentary admission to Disney's U.S. theme parks, as well as ticket discounts for family members and friends.
"Disney's Armed Forces Salute" will be offered Jan. 1, 2002, to April 30, 2002, by both Disney vacation kingdoms in the United States - the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Active U.S. military personnel, with proper U.S. military identification, are eligible, including active members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists.
"We think this is a great way to honor not only the nearly 1.5 million men and women in our active military, but the millions of family members and loved ones who support them," said Paul Pressler, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
At the Walt Disney World Resorts: Each active member of the U.S. military may obtain one complimentary seven-day ticket during the offer period, Jan. 1, 2002, to April 30, 2002. This ticket, specially created for "Disney's Armed Forces Salute," will be valid for admission into the four Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney water parks, Pleasure Island and more for seven days from the date issued. Within seven days after receiving the complimentary ticket, each active member of the U.S. military may also purchase various special offer tickets at a 50 percent discount for up to five family members and friends.
o U.S. actived National Guard personnel are also eligible for discounts at select Disney resorts, starting with a $49 per night rate (plus tax) at Disney's All-Star Resorts from Jan. 1, 2002-April 30, 2002. The number of rooms available at this rate.
o The complimentary and special offer tickets can be obtained only at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows from Jan. 1, 2002, to April 30, 2002. Activated members of the National Guard or Reservists (or their spouses, if they are not present) will also need to show active duty orders. In addition, active military personnel will need to show their complimentary tickets to purchase special offer tickets.
For more information on "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" at the Walt Disney World Resort, or to make reservations, military personnel may call 407/939-7424.
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By P.C. "Pete" Kutschera Photos by Sgt. Matthew Johnson Special to The Guard Times LATHAM It is hard to walk away from an encounter with Maj. Gen. Thomas P. "Tommy" Maguire Jr., New York's new Adjutant General, and former commander of Newburgh's 105th Airlift Wing (AW), and not be comforted. Why? Just because of a bizillion reasons! For one thing he is immensely competent. Maguire's engaging and natural amicability - some of his former associates at the 105th call him "Big Blue Teddy Bear" - belie an extraordinarily astute and time-tested mettle.
As 105th Commander, from 1994 to 2001, the 105th consistently scored superior ratings in operational readiness inspections. It won a reputation as simply the best C-5A "Galaxy" unit in the entire U.S. Air Force.
He possesses extreme versatility. Maguire is equally at home in the field, at the office, or on the flight deck of the "Galaxy" jet transport. He can enthrall you with stories of how the 105th missed, virtually by minutes, flying the plane tabbed to take captured dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega out of Panama during 1989's OPERATION JUST CAUSE.
As 137th Military Airlift Squadron commander and later 105th operations officer and deputy commander, he piloted the C-5A to every continent but Australia (never had a mission) and Antarctica (you can not land a C-5A there). He's notched more flight time on the unit's routine "Stewart Stage" channel support mission to Ramstein Air Base, Germany than most Adirondack Trailways bus drivers do on the Newburgh-New York Port Authority Bus Terminal run.
His experiences run deep in military culture. A Vietnam War veteran, Maguire won a commission to 2nd Lieutenant as a distinguished graduate in 1969 from Holy Cross University's Air Force ROTC program. Assigned to Southeast Asia in 1971, he was a forward air controller, and flew combat missions with the 0-2A aircraft, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross with two devices. He began his association with the Guard in 1974 as an O-2A operator and controller at Westchester County Airport.
And the rest, they say, is prologue. Maguire wound steadily through the ranks, mentoring at mid-career under Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver. It was Weaver, the now retired National Guard Bureau (NGB) Air Guard Director, who led the 105th at Stewart in the 1980s during the largest air base construction conversion in NGB history.
A Persian Gulf War veteran, he flew support missions to Southwest Asia during the 1990-91 conflict and also holds the Kuwait Liberation Medal.
Q. What do you hope the appointment of General Thomas P. Maguire Jr. will mean to the traditional "citizen-soldier" or airman or woman, their professional goals, their personal hopes and aspirations?
A. That we, as a headquarters, can be their primary facilitator - to help them achieve the maximum in their careers. Let's paraphrase that quote from the Army recruiters, 'be all that you can be.' It serves no purpose for this agency to exist unless we can serve, take care of our customers, be they the community, the state and the nation, and certainly our people.
So I want to put added focus on upward mobility and the accomplishment of vital skill sets for all our members. Let me emphasize that we are not going to survive, we just won't survive as an entity, if we can't be supportive of those who support us.
Q. When Governor George Pataki announced your appointment as TAG, Aug. 9, 2001, he praised your 'extraordinary qualifications, personal reputation and proven command experience.' You'd have to go back to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, or possibly Al Smith (whom Camp Smith, Peekskill is named after) to find a state Commander in Chief approximating that kind of enthusiasm and support for the National Guard and the state's military forces. What does that interest mean?
A. It's extraordinarily wonderful and very encouraging. And let me tell you that I have been associated with the New York National Guard since 1974 and I can't recall a Governor who was more supportive of the Guard than Governor Pataki. The relationship I have with him exceeds any anticipation I had. We've had clear cut guidance and maximum support. I mean, as recently as this Monday past, during the Buffalo snow storm (Dec. 31, 2001), the Governor took the time to make sure I and the National Guard knew, as a primary emergency responder, how much he appreciated the qualifications and professionalism that we brought to the table.
Q. The 'buzz' in Newburgh - when you announced to the 105th Airlift Wing that you were leaving and coming to Albany - was that there was an exceptional outpouring of sadness, a profound sense of loss. You were beloved as base commander. There were tears on the tarmac. So we are especially interested in hearing of the sum and substance of your leadership style as a commander?
A. That may have existed, but I think the person that may have felt the most is myself. When you are a member of an organization like that for such a long time, having spent a greater part of your professional life...and on the personal side watching people grow, and they marry, and sometimes pass away, and seeing their children grow, you can't have anything but compassion. I can assure you that I felt just the same sense of loss about leaving.
You can trust that I'll bring the same core values as a commander to the table.
Q. And they are?
A. There are three words the people of Stewart heard me say repeatedly. Respect, and its not just respect in the Judeo-Christian sense, which is extraordinarily important. It's respect for each others processes and as individuals. The second value is accountability. Always hold yourself to the highest possible standard. I try not to confuse accountability with responsibility. For example, I'm responsible to show up every day at such-and-such time. The accountability piece is to do the best job you can every day within the bounds of what is humanly possibly. And the third value is integrity. When I ask people for their definition of integrity I seem to get a different version; 300 people, 300 different answers. To me, the bottom line to integrity is a propensity to do absolutely the right thing. If we do the right thing all else follows.
Respect, accountability and integrity. Those are my core values and I think that's what I offer to the members of this agency. I really believe in my heart that's what they can expect of me.
Q. General, you were barely in office a month when America and New York experienced the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This was an incredible baptism of fire; you were literally tossed into the breach. What are your thoughts on these events and their impact on the National Guard?
A. I am very saddened that our children, and my grand children, may have to live in an America where there is always a looming threat of a violent nature. It's unsettling, for instance, when you walk through a train station, an airport, and you're seeing soldiers carrying arms... all for appropriate reasons... but saddening, nevertheless, because this is very foreign and alien to our culture, as we have enjoyed it. Overall, all of us worldwide, yearn for a return to normalcy. This is what we're ultimately working for.
And for the Guard, well, we've just notched up the tempo even further. We've now taken on domestic homeland security on top of the commitments that we always had, so I see the operational intensity continuing at high tilt.
Q. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Army and Air National Guard from New York had something like 3,400 deployed for OPERATION DESERT STORM/SHIELD. Do you foresee our overseas involvement for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM reaching this magnitude and intensity as the War on Terrorism continues?
A. Yes, I definitely can see an increased presence overseas. An increase, primarily, on the Army Guard side. There were many Air Guard units in the state activated for DESERT STORM, as they are now, and this will surely continue since, for all intents and purposes, our air units are participating on a regular basis in the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) missions, and supporting the U.S. Air Force (USAF) on a full time basis. So the support to ENDURING FREEDOM on the Air side will not seem as dramatic as we will see it with the Army Guard.
Q. Are the Air Expeditionary Force missions, working in theory and practice in New York improving relationships and efficiencies with the Air Force?
A. Yes, it is absolutely working in spirit and letter. I know of no failure on the part of any New York air units to step up to their taskings. And when you add AEF missions and missions which are assigned by the USAF outside scheduled AEF missions the bases are finding, simply, that the active duty requirements being placed on our families, and the overall op tempo, increases. The good news about AEF, of course, is it does provide the stability of a scheduling construct, and as such dependents know when the member is going overseas and when they're coming home. That's a big improvement for the families and loved ones.
Q. If you talk to Army Guard commanders and troops these days, particularly in and out of the 27th Brigade, a tremendous concern is the great uncertainty over the transfer of brigade force structure to Wisconsin, and its replacement with combat service and service support units. We reported extensively about these proposed changes previously in Guard Times. Are these changes and the timetable, which would enhance the continuing modernization of the ARNG in New York on track, and are they proceeding as scheduled?
A. I spoke very recently in Washington with General (Roger) Schultz (Army Guard Director, National Guard Bureau) on this very issue. He is continuing to reaffirm his commitment to make this transition a success. Just yesterday I was speaking with the Governor's staff about this, refocusing our efforts on the transition to make sure it is a success for New York.
To those in the 27th and addressing their possible insecurities -having been down a somewhat similar road in my past-I can identify and empathize with their concerns. In my career we transformed from a unit and position with an essentially tactical and fighter air mission to one with the C- 5 strategic air and support mission, and it was quite dramatic.
I firmly believe that the future lies with those support type units which New York will acquire under the brigade transformation plan. This will bode well, not only for the individual soldier, but certainly for the citizens of New York because we will be bringing in a lot of units with relevant missions: ground and air transport, engineer, corps service support, medical and other specialty units.
God forbid we ever have another WTC tragedy, but Mother Nature will most assuredly provide us with another massive ice storm, blizzard, hurricane or tornado, and the State of New York will be in a far better position to respond effectively to that kind of an emergency.
Q. The NYANG bases are now at over 100 percent of fill, personnel wise, and operating at a high state of readiness; the figures for the NYARNG - while substantially improved since 1995 - hover in the 90 percent range, and personnel retention remains a continuing concern of the force leadership. Where do you foresee the emphasis and priorities being placed in the NYARNG of the future to keep it viable, competitive and capable of responding to the spectrum of potential call up contingencies?
A. The NYANG is at 100 percent and, in part, it is due to their aggressive recruiting, the tremendous support from the recruiting command and the support of the commanders. But the real secret to success is the retention push.
I believe that on the Army Guard side we've got to do everything we can to improve quality of life conditions. Every commander, every sergeant major, every NCO, they've got to be involved with their troops in terms of professional development and quality of life. For example, if the soldier is not making progress in career development and due for promotion, they need to be informed of that and properly counseled. People leave when they are dissatisfied and they stay when they are satisfied; it is that simple. This presents a continuing challenge to leadership.
I know we can do it. We've done it on the Air Guard and we can surely do it on the Army side. I am truly optimistic about that!
Q. What can be done or should be done to improve both 'citizensoldier' and full time personnel opportunities, for minorities and women throughout New York's military forces?
A. We need, as an organization and as a culture, to promote public awareness of our existence and of the unbounded opportunities we as a service offer the community. We need to institutionalize the military as a creative and viable vocation option for everyone, across the human spectrum. Once we attract the men and women, of all ethnic and racial origins, we need to insist on absolute fairness and equality.
So the time will surely come, I am certain, when we will see the senior staff meeting at the unit very reflective of the community social fabric, as it should be.
Again, we must reflect on those core values - respect, accountability, and integrity - which I spoke of earlier. If we bring these to our daily effort in matters of extreme importance, such as human diversity, we are going to progress.
Personality Profile: The TAG Off Duty THREE MOST IMPORTANT FIGURES IN LIFE: His Dad, Thomas P. McGuire; Hugo Ward, his commander at the 105th when it was in Westchester, and wife, Debbie, "for her love, wisdom, support, friendship." FAVORITE TV PROGRAMS: "Survivor Series" and the CNBC TV News Shows. HOBBIES: Golf, "when I get a chance," and motor cycling. LAST BOOKS READ: "Let Me Tell You What I Really Think," by Chris Matthews and "War In Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals," by David Halberstram. FAVORITE MUSICAL GROUPS: "Chicago," "Three Dog Night" and the "Beatles." FAVORITE SOLOIST: Billy Joel. FAVORITE MOVIE: "A Thousand Clowns," 1965 comedy, Jason Robarts Jr., Barbara Harris & Martin Balsam.
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Dear Guard Times,
I wrote this poem during my husband's state active duty in New York City from September 11th until September 23rd. I believe in everything he stands for. Thank you.
" A Country That Doesn't Sleep " In this complex world where things don't always seem right. All understanding is exhausted and your forced to settle with a fight. But how can you handle one who runs from his war, But would kill innocent people just to even up a score. So let me tell you we've been given a chore, To knock down a man hiding behind his so called holy war. I'm proud of my country that doesn't sleep, Uniting our forces will get rid of this creep... Proud to be an American. Sincerely, Cindy Coogan Editor's Note: Spec. Arthur R. Coogan is a member of B Company,1st Battalion, 101st Calvary.
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Dear Guard Times: I have been in the military for over 29 years. On active duty I served in Korea from 1966 - 1968. While attending college I went into the New York Army National Guard on a "Try One" to help with college expenses. I have been in the Guard ever since. I am currently an Active Guard & Reserve (AGR) soldier serving as the Operations Sergeant Major in the 3rd Bde, 42d Infantry Division (Mechanized).
During my time in the military I have had many jobs and served with many officers and enlisted soldiers. This is the reason for this letter. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few of them, paying particular attention to those who were at ground zero at the World Trade Center from September 11 through October 27, 2001.
First, I am proud to say that I am part of the 3rd Bdr, 42d ID, NYARNG. This brigade includes the 69th Infantry, 101 Cavalry, 127th Armor and the 258 Field Artillery. Of these units the 69th Infantry, 101 Cavalry and the 258 Field Artillery are located in the New York City area. The men of these units were on the ground hours after the World Trade Center came down. They did this without concern for their own lives. Many deployed to the site before they were officially called to duty. These individuals came without weapons or ammunition and uncertain of the enemy or what to expect. They went into an area not knowing the situation they would be facing. They established Command and Control, administered first aid, escorted panicked citizens and patrolled the streets. This was done without weapons or protective breathing equipment.
The 127th Armor answered the call to duty and came to relieve the units on the ground. They were in the area of Battery Park starting September 17, 2001. Many of these individuals have stayed and are still serving in the area of the World Trade Center. I am also very proud of them.
I would like to mention a few officers who I feel did an outstanding job. These are men who I have known for the last five years while in the 3rd Brigade. I believe that because of their leadership and guidance their men were able to do their jobs under the most adverse of conditions. They are Lt. Col. Geoffrey Slack, Commander of the 69th Infantry, Lt. Col. Mario Costagliola, Commander of the 101 Cavalry Lt. Col. Frank Candiano, Commander of the 258 Field Artillery, and Maj. Carl Pfeiffer, Commander of the 127th Armor. These officers along with their staff officers and NCO's are individuals the State of New York can be proud of.
The last person I would like to mention is the commander of the 3rd Bde, Col. Arnold H Soeder. I have served with Col. Soeder in many capacities over the last fifteen years.
Soeder was on duty September 12, 2001, commanding his Brigade from Buffalo, NY waiting for his opportunity to do his part. On 23 Sept 01 Col. Soeder and his staff were given the task to come to New York City and participate in the command and control of a Task Force with the mission to continue the security of the World Trade Center site. His commitment and leadership skills are unequaled. I am proud to call him my commander.
In closing I would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank the officers and men of the 69th Infantry, the 101 Cavalry, the 127th Armor, the 258 Field Artillery, the 342d FOwrard Support Battalion and all the others on the ground at the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. I believe that these units have been left out of many articles that have been written, even though some of them were the first to respond. I would like them to know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Sergeant Major Charles V. Canosa Operations Sergeant Major HQ, Third Brigade, 42d Infantry Division, NYARNG
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Dear Guard Times: I was reading the Guard Times today for your coverage of the World Trade Center response. On the front page article under Responding to Terror you listed units that were sent to Ground Zero. You included the 105th,107th,and the 442 Military Police Companies.
I wanted to point out that Detachment 1, 27th Brigade from Schenenctady also deployed to New York. The unit is the Military Police Platoon for the 27th Brigade and was there but not mentioned in the article. This was the first time in New York State that all of its' Military Police assets perfomed one mission together at Ground Zero.
I thought that this would be worth bringing to your attention and to your readers.
James Rosencrans Sgt., NYARNG Det. 1, 27th Bde
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Dear Guard Times: I am a Staff Sergeant in the New York Army National Guard on duty for the recovery efforts in New York City.
Almost everyone who looks on the pile of rubble comes away saying they are at a loss for words. So am I. I can't describe the feeling that went through me on September 11, 2001, when I responded with my National Guard Unit, 1st Battalion - 101st Cavalry (tank), Staten Island, NY. The scene at ground zero was unbelievable. The sight, the smell. It was overwhelming.
We are now deployed in an involuntary State Active Duty status. We were on the ground in this new battlefield on September 11, and have been there ever since.
We are operating at the request of New York City, under the direction of Governor Pataki, in order to assist law enforcement. Our mission is to assist civilian authorities in the restoration of public confidence in the City/State, through law enforcement's fight against terrorism.
My duties have included 12 - 20 hour shifts in Operations, armory security, putting up tents on Staten Island, conducting security missions in the WTC zone and key locations throughout lower Manhattan. Other assignments include security assistance to the New York City Bridge & Tunnel Authority and commuter rail stations, armed with M-9 pistols for force protection purposes.
The new battlefield is now in our backyard. The National Guard will play a vital role in the war ahead. If there was ever a time to recognize the excellent efforts of our protectors, this would be it.
We have endured what no human being should ever be required to do. We have witnessed unspeakable horror and loss of life at the World Trade Center. Cops, Firefighters, Doctors, Nurses, Construction Workers, and yes, National Guardsmen have come together as one.
We need to let all of the men and women in the "Protective Services" know how much they are appreciated and needed. Remember that the whole nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to all of us who serve, that can never be repaid.
Nicasio A. Velazquez Staff Sgt., NYARNG 1st Battalion, 101 Cavalry
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To all the Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Officers of the NY Army National Guard,
After 36 plus years of service to my country and state, I have decided to retire from the New York Army National Guard, effective December 31, 2001.
As I reflect back over my career which began the 1960's and now ends at the close of 2001, I've seen the Guard through good times and bad.
During this last decade we've seen a rebirth of our military and most importantly the resurgence of patriotism, resulting from Desert Storm and most recent horrific terrorist attacks. The Guard is stronger and more ready now than it has ever been. The world is changing and the National Guard will continue to play an increasing role in our National (Homeland ) defense. You can all take great PRIDE in the organization you built and belong to.
I have truly enjoyed every assignment and position I have held and most importantly all the great friendships that my wife Judee and I have made. To me, the National Guard has always been about people, and the close knit family of the Guard.
As the deep snow hits Buffalo, again, I think of the numerous State emergency operations I participated in, to include: the Prison Guard Strike, the Ice Storm, the Stillwater Tornado, Hurricane Floyd, to name a few, and the most recent World Trade Center attack. The Guard is " People Helping People" and now "People Protecting People".
As a true citizen-soldier, since 17 1/2 years of age, I've been able to pursue my civilian careers, as a Professor at Siena College, and a CPA in my own business. Of the three hats I wore, my Guard hat was the most rewarding and fulfilling.
I would be untruthful, if I said I'm not going to miss the Guard. I've always served with honor, dignity, and integrity, and most importantly treated all people, regardless of rank or position, with dignity and respect. I hope this will be my legacy.
I thank each and every one of you for your support and loyalty to me and to the organization. Continue to work together to achieve new heights. Be proud of yourselves and all that you collectively have accomplished.
My personal philosophy is to make a decision, and don't look back, just focus on the future. That's exactly what I intend to do. I've had a great career.
Keep your focus on the future, lean forward, think outside the box, and don't let anything slow you down. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve with you.
Maj. Gen. Michael R. VanPatten Commander, NY Army National Guard
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Guard Times Staff LATHAM Culminating a career that began in 1965, Schenectady native Maj. Gen. Michael R. Van Patten, Commander of the New York Army National Guard since December of 1998, announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, 2001.
Over a three-decade Guard career, General Van Patten, 53, rose from Private to Major General and NY Army National Guard Commander. In addition to his three years as the Commanding General of the Army Guard, he also held command positions at the 42nd Infantry Division's Division Support Command, and the 53rd Troop Command. In addition he was Joint Task Force commander for numerous state emergency operations.
"Mike Van Patten's retirement is without question a great loss to New York's National Guard community. While he will be sorely missed, he has done much more than his share on behalf of his state, nation and Guard force over the past 36 years - we are grateful for his tremendous service and wish him all the best," said The Adjutant General of the State of New York, Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire, Jr.
"The inner-drive and dedication to duty that propelled his rise from the Army Guard's enlisted ranks to the pinnacle of its command have been exemplary and inspirational to soldiers across New York. His leadership and vision helped turn our Army Guard force into one of the nation's best, and his legacy will be one of honor, respect and professionalism," said General Maquire.
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by Paul Morando Soldiers Continue to Patrol NYC by Paul Morando Army News Service NEW YORK CITY Shift changes, traffic moves, ID checks - all routine duty for National Guard soldiers of the 101st Cavalry as they hit the halfway point of a 90-day deployment to secure New York City as part of the Homeland Defense program.
Three months after the attack on Sept. 11, soldiers from the 101st Cavalry continue to protect points outside the World Trade Center, entrances to the Manhattan, Queensborough, Williamsburg, and 59th Street bridges, Midtown tunnel and the inside of Grand Central and Penn stations.
Prior to their recent mobilization, which began Nov. 1, they were among the first National Guard battalions put on state active duty Sept. 11. They pulled security at “Ground Zero” for more than two weeks.
“We had some of the first elements on the ground on Sept. 11th,” said 101st commander, Lt. Col. Mario Costagliola. “For us, that was a real test as a battalion because there was no planning involved - we got activated without any notice.” Now, the primary mission of the 101st, “Operation Wingfoot,” is to augment and support the New York Police Department and civilian authorities in carrying out the dayto- day operation of securing New York City.
During this mobilization, a number of obstacles had to be overcome for the National Guard soldiers as they were first mobilized in November. From learning new jobs to filling key leadership positions, the soldiers said they had to adapt quickly to their new role.
Trained as tankers, soldiers of the 101st had to become modified military police overnight in order to keep New York City secure and carry out their mission properly. “The initial transition period was challenging, but it wasn’t hard to motivate the soldiers and the learning curve was very quick,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Frederick Gilmore, who spends his time going from point to point ensuring that the soldiers are taken care of.
“Every soldier in the military is trained to be infantry and that includes knowing the proper rules of engagement.”
Moreover, the New York Police Department helped out with the training process, making sure the soldiers’ became acclimated with the new environment.
The decline of leadership within the ranks of the 101st stemmed from the fact that a number of senior NCOs and officers are New York policemen and firemen, who were exempted from duty due to Sept. 11.
“This initially affected our leadership, but it allowed our junior officers and NCOs to step up and fill their role - and they have done the job tremendously,” Costagliola said.
The 101st Cavalry, which falls under the 42nd Infantry Division, consists of four companies and two auxiliary units: the 442nd MP Company from Orangeburg, N.Y. and the 53rd Troop Command from Valhalla, N.Y. Those two units are attached to the 101st for the “Operation Wingfoot” mission.
The 101st headquarters and Alpha Company are stationed at the armory on Staten Island, whereas Bravo and Charlie companies come from Albany, N.Y., and Delta Company resides in Newburg, N.Y.
Each company is positioned at a particular spot around the city pulling 8- and 12-hour shifts on a 24-hour basis. Charlie Company acts as a mobile force rotating shifts at all the locations, allowing soldiers to take time off.
“They have a choice on whether to work 8- or 12-hour shifts. Those farther away from home chose the 12-hour shift in order to have full days off to go home, and those who live in the city can go home after their 8-hour shift is over,” Gilmore said.
Those who remain stay at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, N.Y., where they receive base operations support.
The busiest shift is during rush hour when traffic is heaviest, soldiers said. Cars stack up waiting to be directed onto the bridges and tunnels that lead to Manhattan.
“I feel it is bringing back the confidence of the people of New York City, said Sgt. Jose Fernandez. “Its making them feel that there is protection, especially now during the holidays.”
For Spc. Anthony Sotomayor, a combat medic with the 101st and a manager at a Virgin records store, this mission has had a double meaning: “It makes me feel proud being a New Yorker, knowing that I am contributing to the Homeland Defense program.”
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By Staff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 138th MPAD NEW YORK CITY The New York Army National Guard's First Battalion, 69th Infantry, one of the first units to respond to the World Trade Center destruction, has been federalized to secure America's landmark military institution, West Point, this fall.
About 200 soldiers of the battalion, also know as the "Fighting 69th," mobilized at Fort Dix in early November for initial training before going to West Point for security augmentation to the Military Academy. The federalization is part of Operation Noble Eagle, the United States' homeland defense initiative.
"America's future Army leaders train at West Point, which makes it an ideal target for terrorists," said Maj. Michael McGurty, the operations officer of the 69th. The soldiers will fall in with West Point's organic unit the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry brigade, also known as the "First of the First".
"We're an enhancement to West Point's force protection," McGurty said.
"Homeland defense is now a reality," said 69th Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Geoffery Slack. He added that the 69th is equipped to handle stateside security.
"Like any combat arms unit, the 69th has a great chain of command, and a great knowledge of small arms and small unit tactics," he said.
The 69th was at ground zero on September 11, the very day terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center-and have been in the thick of action in the New York City area ever since. Many of the soldiers are New York City natives and responded to the crisis without being called up.
"I just said to my boss, 'sorry, I'm heading home'," recalled Staff Sgt. Sean Gilday, a squad leader in the 69th. "I didn't know if we had been called up yet, but with two towers down, I knew it was just a matter of time." Some worked near the World Trade Center, and witnessed the attack.
Pfc. Alvin Fields, Headquarters Company, was waiting outside his workplace when the second plane struck the World Trade Center -confirming the destruction was no accident.
"When I heard it was a terrorist attack, I knew I would be mobilized," Fields said. "At that time, my instincts took over... I was a soldier on the street. I said to myself, 'we're going to be activated'. I actually yelled to my boss, 'I'll see you all later'."
Fields went straight to the armory, as did Spc. Alejandro Centeno, A Company, 69th Infantry.
"I didn't wait for the phone call," said Centano. "I knew they were going to need me, so I got to the armory as soon as possible. When the second tower was hit, tears came to my eyes. I couldn't help it."
Sgt. Heflyn Lalite, a combat lifesaver, comforted those fleeing the towers' collapse. The current deployment is something he expected.
"I wasn't surprised we were federalized," said Lalite. "I knew sooner or later the National Guard or Reserve would be federalized for this mission."
The federal mobilization will extend the 69th's commitment to the fight on terrorism through the winter of 2002. "Soldiers of the battalion have gone from Ground Zero to the Brooklyn Bridge on state active duty; this will be a long time for some of them," said Sgt. Tony Jones of E Company, because of work or school conflicts.
Private FIrst Class James Donahue said he is prepared to go overseas if called, but has mixed feelings about it- hedging on wanting to go and not wanting to go.
"In a way yes, because that's my job. In a way, no, because I'm a little scared."
Gilday said he doesn't want to see the World Trade Center destruction repeated, and that its destruction remains the main motivation for him and his fellow soldiers. "A lot of our guys are police officers or firemen," Gilday said. "Some lost relatives, and a lot lost friends."
Based in New York City, the 69th is one of the oldest units in the United States Army, with a heritage that stretches from such bloody civil war battlefields as Bull Run, Gettysberg, and Spotsylvania, to both Saipan and Okinowa and World War Two. According to the unit history, it was dubbed the "Fighting 69th" by Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Also called the "Fighting Irish" because the regiment from which it was formed was made up of Irish immigrants, Slack said the unit has always been "an immigrant battalion" and still reflects the ethnic diversity of the places its armories are based.
The Headquarters Company of the 69th boasts an ethnicity commensurate with its midtown-Manhattan armory- mainly soldiers of Spanish lineage, said Gilday.
"They're the new immigrants," Gilday said, pointing to a framed picture of Alejandro Ruiz on the armory wall.
Ruiz is one of the 69th's seven Medal of Honor recipients.. The unit's 150th anniversary celebration, scheduled for October 16th, was cancelled due to the unit's state and federal activations-and out of respect for the World Trade Center victims, said Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Cruzado. The unit has performed many duties since September 11, including sifting through rubble at ground zero and moving bodies.
"There was no definition to the mission at the time," said Slack. "When the soldiers first arrived, they were doing everything the policemen and firemen were doing."
Slack said the 101 Cavalry, the 258th Field Artillery, and the 69th worked together to establish areas of responsibility around ground zero during the days following the terrorist attacks. The 105th Infantry was also deployed to ground zero soon after September 11.
"Combat arms units are, by their very nature, very adaptable," Slack said. "They are the best suited to go into an undeveloped disaster site and stabilize it."
The unit's century-old, gothic-looking Manhattan armory was the city's bereavement center following the terrorist attacks-a rally point for victims' families, who, according to Slack, lined up around the block and packed the armory to await news of their loved ones.
"The armory became the center of sorrow for New York," said Slack. "Whenever they saw a soldier, covered in ash, returning from ground zero, victim's relatives would grab them and beg for news about their loved ones."
Combat veteran Sgt. Felipe Tabeles, a scout in Headquarters Company of the 69th, said the soldiers are in for long days and long nights ahead.
"We have to get into a mode of alertness-for ourselves and others," he said.
Tabeles said he was part of the ambushed convoy that extracted the besieged United States Army rangers and delta operators from Mogadishu, Somalia in October 1992.
"The most important thing is mental readiness," he said. "There's a lot of things that these guys have never seen before. Ground Zero is what a battlefield looks like-right here, in New York City."
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By Lt. Col Fergal Foley HQ, 107th Corps Support Group NEW YORK CITY A sunny, peaceful morning at the 107th Corps Sup port Group (7th Regiment Armory) on Park Avenue, was shattered on September 11th when a call came in from a former 107th soldier who worked in a Mid-Town office saying that a plane hit the World Trade Center. The response of the 107th CSG has left a lasting impact not only on our soldiers, but the entire city of New York.
We immediately turned the TV on to see the smoking tower. Then, like many other Americans, we watched in disbelief as the second plane crashed into the other tower. We knew at that moment that activation was imminent and proceeded to set up our Tactical Operations Center. The activity outside the armory on Park Avenue was incredible. Everywhere, pedestrians were heading uptown. At one point everyone turned skyward as F-16 fighters flew overhead. The F-16's zipped back and forth adding to the drama and the seriousness of what had just happened.
Within an hour of the first tower's collapse, 107th soldiers and other volunteers began to show up. About a hundred union ironworkers arrived immediately with equipment needing to get to the World Trade Center. The 107th utilized every military vehicle and privately owned vehicle available to rush downtown. The 107th CSG quickly became part of the rescue effort.
Some of the 107th soldiers helped with the task to look for survivors or help those that survived. Soldiers from throughout the city took the initiative to offer help right at the scene, forever known as ground zero. Staff from the New York Presbyterian hospital came by asking for space to set up overflow triage areas. Our expectation was that there would be thousands of casualties. We were surprised that no "patients" ever came by all day.
Within hours, the 53rd Troop Command in Valhalla was the official military task force in charge of the military operations at ground zero and surrounding areas. Brig. Gen. Edward Klein, the Task Force Commander, led from a forward command post at the 107th Headquarters at Park Avenue to be closer to the support operation.
The 107th CSG Task Force, commanded by Colonel Steve Seiter, became a major subordinate element of the 53rd Troop Command. The Task Force matured quickly as local elements of the 42d Division, 27th Brigade and Air National Guard, NY Guard and Naval Militia units were task organized under the 107th with numbers reaching nearly 4,000.
Previous unit training and Warfighter exercises prepared the Group to function as a command and control headquarters for several thousand troops of different functional areas from logistics to aviation. The 107th, which normally supervises the logistics and support units, quickly adapted to the command and control of combat battalions, a role the headquarters would grow with until its relief some two weeks after the attack.
The initial call up was difficult because communications were not working, including cell phones. In addition, many of the Group's soldiers live outside Manhattan and the bridges were closed. The bridges and tunnels later opened only to uniformed rescue personnel. Fortunately most of our soldiers instinctively came to the armory anticipating the call-up and arrived within hours. Many of our soldiers have friends and relatives that work at the World Trade Center and felt determined to contribute as much as possible to the effort.
The 107th Task Force Headquarters had about seventy to eighty personnel to staff the operations center and liaison posts at various units and State agencies. Despite limited resources such as phone lines and local area networks, soldiers found alternate means to get the job done in this "come as you are" scenario.
On the evening of September 11th, Governor George Pataki stopped by the armory to be briefed on the operation. The Governor was very pleased with how the National Guard responded to the call so quickly and efficiently. The Governor offered words of encouragement to the staff and then departed to the Office of Emergency Management.
Volunteers helped manage the heavy flow of donations coming to the Armory. At one point the drill floor looked like a tactical Wal- Mart. Corporate CEO's stopped by to see if they can offer us any assistance. Americare was a significant contributor ensuring soldiers had a constant supply of sundry items.
In addition to site security, the missions varied from transportation operations to establishing strategic warehouse hubs around the city. The 206th Corps Support Battalion (Brooklyn) and 369th Corps Support Battalion effectively conducted the majority of these missions. The 369th had several transportation requirements to move resources to "Ground Zero" and the warehouses. The 206th utilized their soldiers to set up and operate the warehouses. At the end of the first 12 days of the rescue effort, the 107th overall, conducted 215 missions.
The first twelve days of this event were emotional for all involved, especially those first 48 hours. What many witnessed at ground zero is nothing you can imagine or train for. These soldiers experienced some of the most extreme emotional swings possible. It is hard to put in words, but after spending hours and days at ground zero amidst the destruction and carnage, one would tend to be very tired and depressed. But then, the soldiers would walk or drive back uptown to be greeted by droves of flag waving citizens screaming "thank you." It seemed that many of our soldiers were running on 100 % adrenaline.
The significance of the New York National Guard's role really hit home when Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, Chief, National Guard Bureau and Lt. Gen Roger C. Shultz, Director of Army National Guard visited the Armory and asked us "What can the Department of Defense do for you here in New York right now." This question put into perspective that the New York National Guard truly fought the on the "front lines" of this new homeland war.
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By Maj. Robert Marchi HQ, 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment NEW YORK CITY On the morning of September 11, 2001, a Deputy District Attorney for the Borough of Manhattan and a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, assigned to the New York Division, as did many other New Yorkers, departed for work. The two citizen-soldiers, members of the 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, had little notion that their proximity to the terrorist attacks and their individual initiative in action would shape the rescue and recovery efforts of thousands of National Guard troops to follow.
When the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center, Capt. Vincent Heintz was exiting his subway station en route to his office as a Deputy District Attorney when he immediately observed the aftermath of the first plane's impact. Unlike the immediate response of most civilians in the area, Heintz did not turn away and run. With complete disregard for his own safety he ran toward the towers to try to help. Taking the initiative, he quickly proceeded to the New York City Police Department's Emergency Command Post under the Manhattan Bridge and began to coordinate civil-military liaison activities for what he knew would be a massive National Guard deployment.
Major Robert Marchi, enroute to New York City's Drug Enforcement Administration's office in Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel, witnessed a similar scene from the New Jersey shoreline. He saw the smoke billowing from the first tower, when trees momentarily blocked his view and when they cleared; the second tower burst into flames.
Like Heintz, Major Marchi proceeded toward the disaster site, struggling like many other National Guard smen through the traffic of the now-closed Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge. Securing his military uniform and equipment to better assist his movements into the city, Marchi reached lower Manhattan approximately 1 1/2 hours after the attack. The scene at the World Trade Center convinced Marchi, the battalion executive officer, that the 105th Infantry stood a high chance of state activation.
Upon arrival, Marchi met by chance First Lt. William Hart, the Battalion's Scout Platoon Leader and an NYPD Officer. Together they proceeded to "ground zero" where Hart was immediately deployed elsewhere and Marchi was ordered with other agents to return to the DEA office.
Heintz meanwhile, had offered his assistance to Chief Patrick Timlin of the NYPD, directing operations at the incident command post in the vicinity of the Manhattan Bridge. Heintz provided some of the first reports of the crisis to the New York National Guard's chain of command via a cellular phone link to the state joint operations center in Latham.
While DEA Personnel were ordered not to leave their building, Marchi contacted his battalion headquarters in Schenectady and was advised of the Governor's activation. With more information provided by Capt. Heintz, he contacted the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery commander and offered his assistance, advising that he was only blocks from the ground zero. Lt. Col. Frank Candiano stated, "You are the eyes and ears of the National Guard. Get down there and report back what they need."
Upon reaching ground zero, Marchi located the city's Office of Emergency Management's Incident Command Center at Public School 89, a few blocks away from the site. Marchi was told of a hastily organized meeting with the Director of the City's Office of Emergency Management. Realizing that he was the senior officer from the entire New York National Guard on the scene, he immediately set about to assist in the coordination of civil-military operations and support for the next several but critical days.
Meanwhile, Heintz, after three and a half hours of unsolicited, voluntary assistance to coordinate military support with the NYPD, learned that his unit, C Company, had been activated and ordered to ground zero. Together with his fellow B Company Commander Capt. Robert Purcell, the two leaders supervised security for the incident commander. Both companies were the first units of the 27th Infantry Brigade to reach ground zero. Over the next two weeks, these units established a perimeter at ground zero. With the mass of emergency responders at ground zero, the success of the Guard's response relied on the initiative of junior leaders. Sorting out the huge number of responders proved challenging to the infantry soldiers closest to the rescue operation. Between firefighters and police officers and the large number of city and nationwide volunteers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Search and Rescue Teams, the 105th Infantry soldiers were the incident commander's last line of defense to keep order and organization to the rescue work.
The initial National Guard response was a small-unit fight for the officers and non-commissioned officers making decisions and placing soldiers where they could best support the search and rescue efforts. "The fight was about individual soldiers making decisions that made things happen, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Taluto, Commander of the joint task force from the 42d Infantry Division that conducted a relief in place with the 105th Infantry soldiers in late September. "That was responsive and that worked for the City of New York."
Due to the confusion, limited communications and fluid and shifting chains of command, Heinz and Purcell took the initiative, and in the words of Lt. Col. Geoffrey Slack, 69th Infantry Battalion Commander, "did their jobs as true infantrymen and marched to the sound of the guns."
Over the next two weeks the troops assisted the incident commanders and the on-scene Director of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in maintaining security and control. According to Robert Wilson of the OEM for NYC, the success of his work at ground zero was a direct result of the professionalism of these National Guard soldiers. When the FDNY Incident Commander was told that the rifle companies were being redeployed, his response was simply "the hell you are, I can't do this job without you."
It was only when thesoldiers received new orders for federal security operations at the city airports did their WTC mission come to an end and a new mission began. But for the soldiers of the 105th Infantry, that is a separate story to tell.
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Story and Photos by Paul Morando Fort Hamilton Public Affairs NEW YORK CITY As the cold rain fell on the hot steel and smoldering rubble at Ground Zero this past fall, tired rescue workers made their way through the muddy streets to a small makeshift supply tent returning with a clean sweatshirt, new helmet or a sturdy shovel.
The process became a ritual-a cyclical rite of passage for the many who are working hard in the relief effort. When a shift changes, rested individuals come to pick up these "sacred" items one at a time or in ranks of 50 to the sites (caches as they are called) located along West Street to begin a new day doing the impossible.
Keeping that process moving smoothly was B Company, 342d Forward Support Battalion from Fort Drum who transported these vital supplies by trucks to the individual caches from the main depot at Pier 36 on the East Side of lower Manhattan.
"Anything they needed, we got for them," said Staff Sgt. Kristen Church of the 342nd who was activated on September 21st. Church, a mother of two from Poughkeepsie, NY was inspired by the rescue workers and the mission. "It's just great to help out and when the workers came here to get equipment, they thanked us for being here and that meant a lot," she said.
At the Pier 36 warehouse, filled with pallets of supplies donated from around the country, including shovels with words of encouragement written on them, the National Guard worked side-by-side with NY Naval Militia Seabees loading trucks for delivery to the site. Members of the National Guard and New York Guard operated similar sites throughout the city.
"This is the hub," said Spec. Cheryl Page, an administrator with the 342d who processed request orders at the pier. "We channel the necessary provisions to the supply tents at Ground Zero and made sure the workers got the items."
Page, who's been in the National Guard for over 11 years, was honored to be a part of the operation. "I am very proud to have been there and working with so many different agencies to support one mission," she said. A myriad of workers on the scene pitched in, including Police officers and the bomb squad members with dogs that checked incoming donations at the depot. According to Page, the supply and transportation mission was a consolidated operation utilizing federal and state agencies that came together for a common goal.
Leading the transportation side of the operation was Second Lt. Elizabeth Condon, who worked closely with the New York Fire and Police Departments as well as the U.S. Forestry Service in a joint effort to make sure the mission was carried out. "There was talk out of the Office of Emergency Management that they were going to pull the military out of the supply caches in Ground Zero," Condon said, but "through the verbal efforts of the NYPD, NYFD, and the U.S. Forestry Service they maintained us there."
Condon put in 14-hour days running back and forth from Pier 36 to the tents making sure everyone was doing okay. "Morale was very high and my soldiers were very happy to be there doing the mission," she said. "They were willing to work the long hours to help out anyway that they could."
John Romero, a member of the Forest Service, Northwest Team 2 from Olympia, Washington welcomed the assistance from the National Guard. "The soldiers here went out of their way to help us and the operation here," he said. "When the shift changes we had a rush for items, so we had to keep this shed stocked at all times and that's when the soldiers stepped in."
Editor's Note: The 342d Forward Support Battalion, like many other Army and Air National Guard, NY Guard and Naval Militia forces, played an integral role in the receipt, management, transportation and distribution of donated relief supplies to the City of New York. Their mission for logistics management and sustainment ended in late October when the city and state authorities assumed control of logistical support to the World Trade Center Recovery efforts. Soldiers and sailors come together to keep the supply tents stocked for the workers at Ground Zero.
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By Senior Master Sgt. Warren J. Gomon 174th FW, Supply Management Activity Group Manager NEW YORK CITY Following the September 11th attacks on America, many individuals from the 174th Fighter Wing volun teered to deploy to New York City to assist in the World Trade Center cleanup. During my two-week deployment to New York, the majority of the 174th FW deployed personnel were assigned to the Task Force Security Detail or Pass and ID. This story does not cover all of the many other personnel who volunteered to work in the Orderly Room, Contracting, as drivers, or other tasks.
Following the return of the first group deployed to New York, I heard many stories about how different it was to see the remains of the World Trade Center in person versus on television. I did not understand how it could be so different. Certainly, seeing the site on CNN and looking at the destruction could not be that much different than seeing it in person. Working on the security detail was extremely emotional most of the time. Working at ground zero, seeing the site first hand and dealing with the emotions of the residents, changed my opinion quickly. I soon realized how different it was to actually be there when I saw ground zero for the first time.
The first week of our deployment began at 6:30 a.m. on Governor's Island when I attend a security briefing and found out our work hours were from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. each day. Next step was to ready all our gear: gas mask, web gear, Kevlar helmet and wet weather gear; then head to the Staten Island Ferry for the ride to Manhattan. Immediately upon arriving at Battery Park, we became part of the formation with the Army National Guard. Following roll call and a "warm welcome to the infantry, ladies and gentlemen" from the Army First Sergeant and a march through Battery Park, we received our assignments.
Each day ended waiting for our replacements at our post around 10:30 p.m., forming up at Battery Park once again, and more often than not - waiting for the 12:30 a.m. Ferry to arrive to take us back to Governor's Island. Each day was long and sometimes emotionally difficult. After only a few days I could make a correlation between our assignment and the movie Ground Hog Day. Every day routine was the same, wake up - work your shift - and twelve to fourteen hours later - try to wash off the soot and smell from the towers that were still burning - then hit the sack and be ready to do the same thing the next day.
I was assigned to work directly with Master Sgt. Leon Saddler as assistant Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC). An important part of our job was to ensure our troops received meal breaks and to take care of their basic needs. Our first hurdle was to make sure all Air National Guard personnel assigned to Security had proper protective gear such as air filters and high visibility vests. We worked with Tech Sgt. Gerry Dunn who was assigned as the NCOIC Joint Task Force Liaison. He was responsible for managing the inventory of all respirators, filters and safety equipment for all the different elements of the WTC operation.
The Air National Guard portion of the security detail consisted of 37 people covering twelve to fifteen entry control points surrounding Ground Zero. The route from the first security checkpoint to the last was approximately 1 1/2 miles extending out around two to three blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood. Our main mission was to ensure no unauthorized personnel gained access to the site.
It was very strange walking down Broadway for the first time since the attack. The street that was normally filled with vehicular traffic, was only crowded with construction workers, priests, police, firefighters, Red Cross volunteers and military. During the first week it was tremendously hectic and emotional. The east side of Broadway was filled with bystanders every hour of the day. I witnessed hundreds of people trying to view the ruins of the WTC and consistently taking pictures. Personnel at some checkpoints constantly consoled people on the street and at times hung pictures of friends and loved ones on the fence that surrounded the site, as well as flowers sent in memory and drawings by children. Other checkpoints over and over again checked identification of truck drivers assigned to carry the building remains out of the area.
Our checkpoint at West and Rector Streets was busy checking identification for all the city vehicles (fire, police and sanitation department). Some security personnel were assigned to the wash stations that washed down the debris and worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to track the destination of each truckload. The toughest checkpoint by far, at least from an emotional standpoint, was located on Liberty and West Streets. This was the checkpoint where all the dignitaries and family members accessed ground zero. There was a viewing stand that was set up inside the site. The grief and sorrow that passed through that checkpoint everyday was incredible.
Our mission the second week was basically the same. Personnel from the first week rotated out and new personnel were assigned to security. Tech. Sgt. Paul Whelan, 174th Logistics Squadron, was assigned as NCOIC in place of Master Sgt. Saddler. Capt. Mary Pontecorvo, 174th Medical Squadron, was assigned as OIC of all Air National Guard for Task Force Steel working directly with Army National Guard managing the security operations. Our barracks moved from Governor's Island to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. The sleeping accommodations, 18 to 21 people in a three bedroom apartment, were not the greatest, but moving to Fort Hamilton made transportation a lot easier and the duty day shorter.
During the second week, the location of the checkpoints was always changing and the circumference around Ground Zero continued to shrink. As our checkpoints got closer to the site, emotion became more of a factor. Security also became more difficult. More and more unauthorized people tried to access Ground Zero.
As some of the posts were eliminated, we were finally able to rotate some people for a day off. This was a challenge for the leadership. Tech. Sgt. Whelan told me "There was a strong feeling of team and mission. Even with the emotional difficulty of working in the disaster site, the fatigue of long days, stress of possible security violations, traffic, pedestrians and emotional citizens, it was a challenge to find volunteers to take a day off. Air Guard troops wanted to sacrifice their day off to help out."
Both weeks our security team performed in an outstanding manner. During the staff meetings I attended, the Air Guard consistently received positive remarks all the way up to the two Star General level. We did our part in deterring unauthorized personnel from getting into the site. For example, the first week our security team caught two reporters dressed up like NYC firefighters. The second week we caught some unauthorized military and civilian personnel trying to access the site. There were many other times where the security detail prevented unauthorized personnel from entering the site. There was never a security breach through an Air National Guard posts, although several attempts were made. In addition to providing security, our personnel provided comfort to the citizens of New York. Many occasions our people could be seen interacting with those in need. Whether it was just listening to their stories or providing a hug, our people were there for them.
Although on November 3rd, 2001 the Air National Guard mission at the World Trade Center was completed, we demonstrated to everyone that we could successfully tackle another tough mission. The bottom line was that personnel from the entire New York Air National Guard developed a cohesive team that performed at an exceptionally high level.
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By Christopher F. Hardej 102 Rescue Squadron While sitting with my back to the window on the 82nd floor of Tower No. 1 at the World Trade Center Tuesday morning, September 11th, I heard a rush of air and a long two-second "swoosh." Then there was a thump that rocked the building forward which then sprang back. It took only a second to register before I started my escape out of the building: New York was under attack.
I am a Senior Transportation Analyst with the New York State Department of Transportation. I was in the office by my typical 7:30 am. My desk sits alongside the windows on the north side of the building - the side of the impact. I was within 150 feet of initial impact as the plane entered the lower ninetieth floors.
After the impact, I turned to look out the window, which oddly did not shatter. I noticed that it was a beautiful day for flying, so I knew this wasn't simply an accident.
I recall thinking that this is something that one did not see everyday as what looked like a tickertape parade with large amounts of paper, metal fragments, and shards floated down. I'm also a military person, so instinctively, I hit the deck and crawled to the middle of the office to head for the exit. The lights in the office were still on at this time.
We quickly walked through the aisle just like in the fire drills that we had several times a year. There was no panic. Even though our office was lit, the hallways were dark and filled with smoke. Out of the darkness, I heard one of our employees by the stairwell yelling, "Come to my voice." He kept on shouting that. When we got to his voice, we scurried down the stairs that were lit.
As we started down, I noticed a general lack of people in the stairwell. It was relatively calm and easy getting down to about the mid-sixty something floor. Then due to all the people leaving the lower floors we came to a stand still.
We started to measure progress by one floor at a time, then a half of a floor. I looked down the middle of the stairwell and saw a sea of people as far as the eye could see.
While waiting, there was small talk to pass the time. Typically, "I was here in 1993 and here we go again." After a while, Snapple soft drinks appeared and were passed up the stairs to share - something to momentarily ease you. I took off my white-collared shirt just in case I would need to cover my mouth and nose in a smoke-filled environment. I thought that when I got down stairs, I would simply grab my Metrocard and get on the subway at the other end of the concourse and continue my work at home.
The stairwell comfortably held two across. After awhile, the injured started coming down and we would yell "injured" while moving to the right to make room. One man was burned from the waist up. One woman was badly burned walking under her own control, but like a mummy with her arms painfully straight out in front of her. Seeing her unescorted, my boss volunteered to escort her down the stairs. I knew he did that out of concern for her; he is a genuinely helpful person.
As we were going down past the upper thirties, we started seeing the first firemen making their way up. By now, around forty-five minutes had passed. With forty plus more flights to go, it seemed like a losing battle. They looked like they were so tired already, but understandably - they had walked more than thirty plus flights in full gear with a hose on their backs. I was amazed to see the dedication of a team of two carrying a litter. The one on the front looked like he was going to drop any second. The trailer said, "Let me take the front." But he wouldn't hear it saying, "I can do one more flight."
I found out later that the plane, a couple of floors tall, was estimated to have entered in the 92nd floor. One person on the 86th floor turned toward the window while getting up and saw the hijacker eye-to-eye. I did not hear of anyone above the floors that got hit getting out.
When we finally got down to the 12th floor, things started to open up. I also noticed, for the first time, that the floor was wet. When we got to the lobby I stepped into an inch or two of water. As I was coming down with two coworkers, I stopped at the base of the stairs to wait for them. After about 30 seconds, my co-worker, Jan appeared. Right behind him, my other co-worker Larissa followed.
I saw one elevator full of firemen going up to the 45th floor and I thought they were lucky to ride part of the way versus those I'd seen walking up.
With the stopping in the stairs, it took me over an hour to get down. I felt relieved to walk out of One World Trade Center, but my challenge was only just starting.
Beneath the Collapse of Tower Two
We went through the only sprinklers I saw and were drenched with cold water for about twenty feet as we entered the underground concourse. I noticed that although One World Trade Center had no electricity, the lights were on in the concourse area. The concourse was the shopping mall that connected the World Trade Center complex. The concourse looked perfectly normal and intact, except everything that was closed. There were several small groups of people, still exiting, though most people had cleared out by now.
I recall looking down the corridor towards Two World Trade Center while walking towards my subway entrance straight ahead. No sooner than thirty feet past that corridor, I heard a tremendous rumbling and crashing, and something similar to that whoosh, that rush of air, behind me. World Trade Center Tower No. 2 was coming down.
The falling building was pushing a wall of air and debris through that connecting concourse. As I looked over my shoulder and saw that tsunami-like wave coming at me, I had to think quickly. I didn't want the ceiling and the plaza above to cave in and crush me, so I looked for the closest support beam. As I was running to a marble support beam between two stores, the windows from all the stores were bulging and blasting out, from the pressure and rumbling.
I was literally sandblasted with fiber particles among everything else imaginable pulverized by the crashing down of that tower. As my two co-workers lay on the floor, the force blew them along the corridor. At that time everything went black as the electricity went out. The scariest part was hearing the continual crashing above as my mind raced to think of what to do next.
I couldn't breathe for two or three minutes as that wave was supersaturated with fine particles. Every time I opened my mouth to breathe, I got a mouth full of sand. You couldn't even see your own hand in front of your face.
After a while, it dissipated enough to breathe. I saw a dim light fifteen feet away. I shuffled through the glass to the light as a staging point. I noticed it was the entrance to the other subway that stops there. I faintly heard the shaken voice of my co-worker calling out for me. Since they were on the floor in the middle of the corridor, we could not see each other. I told Jan to come to the light. He told me that he lost his glasses and couldn't see. So I kept repeating for him to "come to my voice" until I saw his figure appear out of the darkness with Larissa shortly behind. There we spent a minute assessing the situation.
It became apparent that we needed to move on and that we could not wait at all. By now, my night vision let me make out some of the large pieces of debris in the dark. I told everyone to hold onto each other and follow me as we formed a human chain. At that moment, a woman said she could not walk through the glass as she did not have any shoes. Many women discarded their heels going down all those stairs. As I was about to offer my back, another guy next to me gave her a piggyback out. Now I was free again to lead out the train.
I could barely make out enough to walk gingerly through the debris and avoid the large signs and everything that fell off the ceiling onto the floor. It was like walking through a minefield not knowing what the next step would be. Jan later recalled walking past the Godiva Chocolate's place. There was some official in the distance ahead saying, "Come to the light." I continued towards his voice. Eventually, I saw his flashlight swing back and forth over his head.
There was a brief discussion between him and three other firemen who wanted to send us up the escalator to the plaza level. He replied, "No way." That was all I needed to lead my group to the street level exit. I was later told, there were ten to twelve people in that human chain behind me. People near the corridor to Tower #2, thirty feet behind us, did not get out.
On the Street and the Collapse of Tower One
When we finally got out of the building on the side of the initial impact, I saw at least a foot of debris literally everywhere. Cars were destroyed. It seemed that we were slowing down and letting our guard down again. I was concerned with our pace. I don't recall stopping, but I remember telling my two fellow employees, "We have to get out of here; there is a lot of glass above us." I remember distinctively walking right down the centerline of the street not trusting anything on either side.
We were three blocks away when we turned around to look at the devastation from our building. I was amazed that I was there looking at the impact as there are not many floors between my office on the 82nd floor and the top. We stopped at an EMT truck for Jan's eyes and Larissa's leg. With those injuries being minor, we were dismissed as they were awaiting real casualties from Ground Zero a few blocks away.
As we continued our walk north, we heard this tremendous crashing from behind us. Suspecting that it was Tower No.1, we started running, not for a moment looking behind us as my concern was getting away from there. That was about twenty-five minutes after the collapse of the other building. After we were clear of the area, one of my fellow employees broke down, and he reminded me of all the firemen that were in there. My prayers went to at least the 35 firemen I saw going up there.
As we continued up north, my main focus was to get word to my wife. Based on previous training, I knew if I got on camera, word would filter out to my family that I made it out of there. So I was actively looking for a camera, not for an interview, but just to be seen. Getting wet then sandblasted during the initial collapse, I looked like the other mud-caked survivors shown on TV,so I didn't havetrouble finding a camera as the cameras soon found us.
I was not going to stop until I knew my wife knew for certain that I was fine. All the phones had lines of twelve deep. Cell phones were limited as the lines were saturated and any towers on the Trade Centers were gone. The northsouth block that we were still on was now packed with pedestrian traffic, both onlookers from the north and survivors from the south. I noticed that the parallel street a block over was empty. So, I redirected us towards that street in search of an empty phone. There it was - a public phone with only one person. As I approached it, a finely dressed German man took one look at me and handed me the phone cutting his call short. As I do not carry change, I called the 800 number at the National Guard unit to get a phone patch. As I was sure that my home line would be busy, I directed the person in operations to continually dial two numbers to get word to my wife. This also got word to those at the base that I was fine as they saw me on the television as well.
Store fronts were handing out free bottles of water. One woman offered up her home for us to bathe.
I was still not convinced that my wife got the word until I had confirmation that she did. So, my trek home was my only task left at hand. Since the city was completely shut down, I knew I had to walk into Brooklyn. The trip would be two hours.
We stopped at New York University (NYU), affiliated with the university medical center and found the in processing center for survivors staffed with a doctor, counselors, and others. They were expecting many, but I saw none.
Jan had particles in his eyes that would require antibiotic eye drops. Larisa needed to wait to be taken to the medical facility as she needed three stitches to close a minor cut. After an x-ray, they found a piece of glass they needed to removed. After the doctor checked us, Jan and I went to the men's room. We looked bad. Although there were showers down stairs, all I wanted to do was wash my face and arms to get on my way.
I just feel extremely lucky. We were just below the initial impact where 30 to 100 feet made the difference. As the plane lined up, I assumed he put in full power. As a plane speeds up, it will climb. There were reports that it climbed near the end. It missed the 82nd floor. Then it took a long hour and ten minutes to get down the stairs.
Although it was bad being in the concourse when the first tower came down on top of us, what if we were a little quicker or a little later? The concourse protected us from the falling debris. Where we stood in the concourse also made the difference. People just behind us did not get out. We were three to five blocks away when our building came crashing down behind us. That twenty-five minute window between the two collapses was that window of opportunity that we needed.
But my wife STILL did not know of my whereabouts. As far as she knew, she was a widow. Anyone who saw the pictures and knew that we were on the 82nd floor, thought I was a goner. My brother-in-law upstate said, "We were sure he was dead. We didn't find out until maybe one or two in the afternoon.
Over to Brooklyn and On to Home
I left NYU with the one last real task left, getting home would be ensuring that my wife knew that I was fine. I said From the WTC To the Middle East my good-byes to my coworkers and with that, I made my way to the Manhattan Bridge.
I walked over the Manhattan Bridge in a sea of people migrating out of the city. I probably walked three miles by now into Brooklyn. Flatbush Avenue was packed with one side full of pedestrians and the other with standstill traffic going nowhere. There were buses full of firemen heading inbound towards Manhattan, and buses full of passengers moving away in the opposite direction. We were moving on foot faster than the traffic. It was another two and a half miles to a subway line in my old neighborhood.
I got off the 18th Avenue station and again called the base to get through to my house. I finally spoke with my wife, the first word that I was alive, more than five hours after the attack. She was startled that it was me and in Brooklyn no less. She couldn't hear me speaking as the background erupted with numerous people cheering. Being in no condition to drive, our good friend drove her to the station to pick me up.
As I stood on the corner, neither one of them recognized me at first. With a kiss and a long hug, I had to tell her let's get in the car. There was a crowd of people waiting for me outside the house. That was when she got word that several people saw me alive on television.
With infected sinuses breathing all those particles, I went to rest as my wife took all the calls. The smell of death, as it was called, was in the air for days. One night, I had my air conditioner on to keep the smell out. For two days, I had black solid residue coming out of my nose.
From Ground Zero to the Middle East
You cannot keep a Guardsman at home. I watched all the news the following day, but that got old fast. I was already scheduled to fly with my squadron Thursday night that week. Two days after the Attack on America, I was airborne on a mission for the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing as the skies were shut down. It was strange being one of a few planes airborne and passing an aircraft carrier group stationed outside New York's harbor.
Before any of this happened, I had orders to deploy for Operation Southern Watch in Southwest Asia. I previously volunteered for all three two-week rotations where only one was expected of the traditional Guardsman.
The Trade Center tragedy was my ticket to stay home. No one would have questioned my decision being seven floors below the impact at Ground Zero. I wouldn't have felt right staying home while my guys were in theater. Fifteen days after the attack, this New York State Air Guardsman was heading east.
One month to the minute after the attack, I was on a tarmac in the middle of a Middle Eastern desert while "Amazing Grace" played at the remembrance service back in New York City. In some ways, my journey overseas made me a minor celebrity as military journalists interviewed me. My guess is that other members of the New York National Guard will have similar experiences during their deployments as well.
It was strange being so far from ground zero after that terrible day. Two months after the attack, on Veteran's Day, I fulfilled my duty landing back in the United States forever changed by the events of September 11th.
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By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell National Guard Bureau NEW YORK CITY Drivers in rental trucks bound from Brooklyn to Manhattan these days can expect to be stopped and searched before they cross the East River by New York Army National Guard soldiers.
The armed citizen-soldiers are checking a steady stream of randomly selected vans and trucks, some smelling strongly of fish, to make sure the drivers' licenses and paperwork are in order and that the vehicles are not carrying cargo that could create more terror for New York City.
They were in the right places at the right time to help civilian authorities close the bridges and tunnels leading to Manhattan for about 45 minutes on Monday morning, Nov. 12, after American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into a Queens neighborhood after taking off from JFK International Airport.
The "New Normal" for the National Guard
Such is the so-called "new normal" for thousands of National Guard troops who are helping law enforcement agencies, including the New York Police Department, watch over the nation's entire transportation system. By Veterans Day, Nov. 11, they were becoming veterans of homeland defense in the new war against terrorism.
"Most of the Guard troops are working on the Brooklyn end of the bridges, because we're more concerned about trucks going into Manhattan," explained New York Police Sgt. Stephen Patino. "They can't take any direct action unless a police officer is present."
President George Bush announced on Nov. 9 that the National Guard force supporting security details at 424 airports would be temporarily increased by 25 percent, to about 8,000 troops, to help travelers feel more secure during this holiday season.
By then, governors had already called on Army and Air National Guard troops to help protect many other highways and byways, from Grand Central Station and Pennsylvania Station in New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge in California.
Guard troops have also been helping to secure nuclear power plants and were expected to assist Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., check traffic around the Capitol building after Senate leaders authorized that request on Nov. 9. And 200 New York Army Guard soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry have been called up for security duty at the United States Military Academy at West Point (see related story on page seven).
That means New York Guard members are engaged for the first time at home by order of their governor and overseas as part of the president's partial mobilization for reserve forces, pointed out Gov. George Pataki.
"Your are up to the challenge. You are doing the job. We are so proud of you," Pataki recently told Guard troops at the Park Avenue Armory, home of New York's historic 7th Regiment that was the first unit to be called the National Guard.
The transportation duty is being taken far more seriously than, say, making sure that no one buys or sells the Brooklyn Bridge - one of America's most infamous scams. "It keeps you busy, but I'd rather be doing something than standing around," said Staff Sgt. Arthur Dunkin at the end of the Manhattan Bridge where a team from the New York Army Guard's 42nd Infantry Division inspected vehicles.
"It's not practice. It's not training. It's not anything but the real thing," said Maj. Gen. George Garrett, the "Rainbow Division's" commanding general who is leading the task force that is helping to protect America's largest city. "We are running this just as if we were in Afghanistan getting ready to roll our tanks."
The 42nd's mission in New York City has been expanded from the original job of helping to secure ground zero after hijacked jetliners toppled the World Trade Center and killed thousands of people on Sept. 11, Garrett acknowledged.