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FOR RELEASE: Friday, Feb 06, 2009

Special National Guard Team Changes Command In Scotia



Major General Joseph Taluto, The Adjutant General and Commander of the New York National Guard, Major Rich Nunziato, incoming CST Commander, and Lt. Col. Matt Cooper, outgoing CST commander


Command of the New York National Guard's 2nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) will change from Army National Guard Lt. Col. Matthew H. Cooper to Air National Guard Major Rich Nunziato during a ceremony at Stratton Air National Guard Base. The members of the CST are trained to rapidly identify radiological, biological, and chemical agents that might be used in a terrorist attack.


1:45 p.m., Friday, Feb 6, 2009


Dining Facility, Stratton Air National Guard Base, Scotia NY

WHY: The Change of Command Ceremony dates back to the days in which a military unit's flag marked its position in the line of battle. The colors were always near the commander, so troops knew where to rally on the battlefield. Today the transfer of the colors marks a change in the unit and givens the soldiers their first opportunity to see and hear their new leader.


Visual and Coverage Opportunities: The Change of Command Ceremony involves the outgoing commander handing the unit colors to Major General Taluto, the commander of the 17,000-member New York National Guard, who will hand the colors to the incoming unit commander. The 24 members of the CST will be in formation behind their leaders during this transition. Major General Taluto, Major Nunziato, and Lt. Col. Cooper will all make brief remarks. They will be available for interviews. The ceremony will start at 2 p.m. and last approximately 30 minutes. Major Rich Nunziato: Slingerlands resident Major Rich Nunziato, has served in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard since 1984, when he enlisted as an administrative specialist. In 1990 he joined the New York Air National Guard and served as an aircrew life support specialist and personnel specialist. In 1999 he received a direct commission as Medical Operations Office in the 2nd CST, and since then he has served as survey team leader, operations officer and deputy commander. As a member of the 2nd CST, Nunziato deployed to New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and has also deployed to support major events, to include the 2001, 2002 and 2003 World Series, United States Open Golf Championships, and the 2004 Republican National Convention. His awards include the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal, and the Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksman Ribbon. He and his wife Dawne, have a six-year old daughter. Lt. Col. Matthew H. Cooper: Lt. Col. Matthew H. Cooper enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1987 and was commissioned through the ROTC program in 1992. He served on Active duty as a communications platoon leader for the Fifth Corps :Long Range Surveillance Company in Darmstadt Germany and later deployed to Bosnia as Assistant Operations Officer for the 440th Signal Battalion. On returning to the United States he served in the 3rd Special Forces Group and the 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion. He commanded B Co. 112th Signal Battalion in Afghanistan, during that period. In 2002, Cooper joined the New York Army National Guard as deputy commander for the 2nd CST. He assumed command of the unit in 2004. Cooper's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the NATO Medal, Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge and German Parachutists Badge. Cooper will now become the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch Chief for the New York National Guard, overseeing operations and training of the 2nd CST, the newly organized 24th CST in New York City, and the New York National Guard CERFP, a team specially trained to extract victims from buildings destroyed by chemical, biological, radiological, or high-yield explosive weapons, decontaminate them and treat them. CERFP stands for CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, high-yield Explosive) Enhanced Response Force Package. He and his wife Ivy live in Galway with their six-year old daughter. The 2nd Civil Support Team The National Guard's Weapon of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams, commonly called CSTs, were created in 1998 with the mission of being able to deploy rapidly, assist local first-responders in determining the nature of an attack-i.e. was it chemical, biological or radiological-and provide medical and technical advice, and pave the way for the identification and arrival of follow-on state and federal military response assets. They provide initial advice on what the agent may be, assist first responders in that detection assessment process, and are the first military responders on the ground, so that if additional federal resources are called into the situation, they can serve as an advance party with that military force. The 2nd CST was among the first 10 CSTs established by President Bill Clinton's directive. The 2nd CST was certified as ready in June of 2001 and deployed to New York City following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then the 2nd CST has deployed elements to New York City in support of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, New Years Eve celebrations, and other events which may be a target for a terrorist attack. The team is ready to respond to incidents throughout the northeast. The 22-members of the 2nd CST come from both the Army and Air National Guard, making this a joint force, and they have unique capabilities and specialties. The 2nd CST is based at the Stratton ANGB so it can be rapidly deployed by air if necessary. New York is in the process of establishing a second CST, the 24th CST, at Fort Hamilton in New York City, in order to provide additional capability in the metropolitan New York area. For access to this secure military facility members of the media should contact Lt. Col. Kimberly Terpening, the community relations manager for the 109th Airlift Wing at 518- 344-2103 or 518-487-0889(cellular). Members of the media will need a photo ID to gain access to the base.


© NYS DMNA Press Release:Special National Guard Team Changes Command In Scotia
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