By Army Staff Sgt. Jim
Special to American Forces Press Service
|ARLINGTON, Va., June 26, 2008 - National Guard soldiers and airmen continued
to fight Midwest flooding and California fires today.
2,300 Guard members remained on duty in the Midwest, down from a peak of more
than 5,700, National Guard Bureau officials reported.
Army National Guard soldiers from Iowa work to
complete a seven-foot sandbagged levy to protect an electrical generator from
rising flood waters in Hills, Iowa, June 14, 2008. About 80 Guardsmen --
including those with the 34th Army Band out of Fairfield -- sandbagged at the
generator plant. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Oscar M. Sanchez-Alvarez
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
California wildfires called for fewer Guard members and more aircraft. UH-60
Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters and C-130 Hercules aircraft dropped
water and flame retardant, while OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and RC-26 Metroliner
aircraft flew fire-spotting and reconnaissance missions. More than 90 Guard
members responded to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's request for National Guard
In Missouri, the National Guard was preparing for potential
flooding downriver, Army Capt. Tamara Spicer, a public affairs officer, said.
The Missouri Guard posted liaison officers to four lower Mississippi River
counties in anticipation of flooding, she said.
One levee near Winfield,
Mo. was considered to be in such a tenuous position that only life vest-clad
National Guard members and firefighters were allowed to stack sandbags, the
Associated Press reported yesterday.
Army Spc. Daniel Maguire of the
1438th Engineer Company was one of hundreds of Guard members on duty from units
across Missouri. "It's my job," he said. "I'm a National Guard soldier, and I
help with state emergencies."
Missouri's adjutant general, Army Maj.
Gen. King Sidwell said his the state's Guard members will remain on the job as
long as they're needed. "The Missouri National Guard continues to work closely
with state and local leaders to ensure we have our citizen-soldiers and –airmen
where they are needed to help Missourians," Sidwell said. "We will continue to
support our communities until local officials release the soldiers and airmen."
Army Lt. Col. Tim Donovan, the Wisconsin National Guard's director of
public affairs, detailed that state's experience, typical of the affected
Unrelenting waves of heavy rain moved into Wisconsin on June
7, and by June 8 Gov. Jim Doyle declared 30 of the state's 72 counties disaster
areas, Donovan said.
"The National Guard's Joint Operations Center
beefed up its routine 24/7 staff to coordinate Guard response as flood waters
covered most of the southern half of the state," Donovan said. "Wisconsin
National Guard soldiers and airmen conducted evacuations, delivered sandbags,
operated traffic control points, performed security missions, completed engineer
assessments and flew aerial assessment flights to assist in the state's
Army Sgt. Jacek Gusciora, part of the Illinois
National Guard's 341st Military Intelligence Company based in Chicago, has been
working sandbag operations along the Sny levee.
"This is the reason we
signed up for the National Guard; this is our duty," Gusciora said. "We're
honored to do it. We've received the training, and now we're doing our mission."
The Midwest flooding mission has seen Guard assistance to civilian
authorities in five states since June 7. Troops have concluded flooding
operations in Indiana, but remained at work today in four other states. While
the numbers of troops receded with the water, they still were in the thousands:
-- Illinois: More than 1,100 Guard members monitored levees as farmland
remained threatened from the burgeoning Mississippi. Troops also conducted
security patrols in affected communities.
-- Missouri: With three dozen
levees remaining at risk, more than 800 Guard members were on duty providing
communications and command and control, monitoring levees, positioning sandbags,
assessing damage, removing debris, providing security and distributing fuel.
-- Iowa: 200 troops continued mop-up operations.
200 troops remained in the field today, pumping water, supplying power and
giving communications and command support in addition to security, debris
removal, road repair and transportation missions.
Guard members are on
duty in the United States 365 days a year. Yesterday, a National Guard CH-47
Chinook helicopter plucked an injured teenager from the side of a Colorado
mountain after a car crash. The same day, Guard members assisted Border Patrol
agents in four Southwest border states, ferried drinking water to residents of
several New Mexico towns, supported Louisiana police, provided critical
infrastructure protection in Northeast states and California, flew critical air
sovereignty missions nationwide and continued counterdrug operations.
addition, Guard members remained on duty on numerous overseas missions,
including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
(Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves
at the National Guard Bureau. Army Sgt. April McLaren of the Illinois National
Guard contributed to this report.)