Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
JEFFERSON CITY – Since Aug. 30, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has mobilized more than 1,300 Missouri Army National Guard members to help civil authorities’ hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana.
"The men and women of Missouri’s National Guard are doing a superb job working to help our neighbors in this time of need,” Gov. Blunt said. “As thousands of residents begin returning to their homes and communities Missouri guard members’ expertise in law enforcement and emergency management is invaluable.”
Gov. Blunt activated the Missouri National Guard in conjunction with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact after Louisiana’s State Emergency Management Agency filed an aid request. Gov. Blunt activated Citizen-Soldiers from four Missouri commands - the 20th Combat Aviation Brigade, Sedalia, the 35th Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, the 70th Troop Command, Jefferson Barracks, and 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Kansas City, - sent Soldiers to the approaching storm.
“As the needs of Louisiana increase, the Missouri National Guard continues to provide support,” said Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.
In addition to traditional Guard units, Missouri has also sent the 7th Civil Support Team. The team has been restoring Internet capability to emergency services. On Tuesday, the team fixed the 911 Communications Center in Rapides Parish, said team commander Lt. Col. David Boyle.
“They had power,” Lt. Col. Boyle said. “They had everything going except they had lost Internet.”
Because the center’s operations are Internet-based, first responders were unable to respond to emergency calls without Internet access. Boyle said the team would need to remain at the center to maintain the Internet connection until a private company arrived to restore the connection. After that, he said he expected the team would be restoring communication at different locations throughout southeastern Louisiana.
Lt. Col. Bill Kephart, commander of the 205th Military Police Battalion, told his troops to forget about any preconceived notions of what they’d encounter on the ground.
“Expect the unexpected,” Lt. Col. Kephart said. “Be prepared for anything and everything. We will be establishing security points, patrolling, and doing whatever else is needed to support the civil authorities.”
Kephart also told his troops to talk to their fellow Soldiers who had responded to Katrina. One such Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Lowe, of Golden City, mobilized with Company A of the 311th Brigade Support Battalion, Nevada. Lowe said he’s proud of the preemptive support the National Guard is giving those in the storm’s path.
“The preparation for this hurricane is outstanding,” Sgt. Lowe said. “These Citizen-Soldiers are prepared to adapt to any kind of emergency and they have quickly grappled with the effects of this hurricane and provided help to those in distress.”
Many Guard members have learned important lessons from previous state emergencies within Missouri. During the June floods, Soldiers from the 1221st Transportation Company, Dexter, hauled equipment for military police units on the ground. Now, the unit has almost 80 troops on the ground in Louisiana, ready to assist local authorities.
“There have been many lessons learned from recent state emergency duty call-ups,” said Capt. Richard Tipton, 1221st company commander. “We plan on applying everything we’ve learned through those prior mobilizations to support our local communities better.”
Soldiers with the 548th Transportation Company, Trenton, are hauling supplies including food and water to the area, said Sgt. 1st Class Christine Chaney, the unit’s readiness noncommissioned officer. Company commander Capt. Dan Cowling said his unit has the ability to haul and deliver 30,000 pounds of cargo in each of their trucks.
“The storms have really impacted their infrastructure, so we will be delivering food and water to those who need it,” said Capt. Dan Cowling, 548th Transportation Company commander.
As they work to restore the damage done by Hurricane Gustav and the nation continues to monitor incoming hurricanes Hanna and Ike, the Missouri Guardsmen remain upbeat and optimistic about their mission.
“You never want to see your fellow Americans in harm’s way, but this is what the National Guard is all about,” said Capt. Nathan Wilde, commander of Company A of the 311th Brigade Support Battalion. “It’s our honor to assist these folks in their time of need. We’re happy to help in any way we can.”
In the three-year period since the Missouri Guard sent approximately 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen to Hurricane Katrina, the Missouri National Guard has been mobilized for emergency duty 13 times.
After receiving an initial request for a helicopter maintenance team, the Missouri Guard quickly responded to requests for additional troops in support of emergency response efforts.
The Missouri Guard’s hurricane response includes the following units: 70th Troop Command, of Jefferson Barracks; 205th Military Police Battalion, of Poplar Bluff; 1138th Military Police Company, of West Plains; 1137th Military Police, of St. Louis; 1175th Military Police, of St. Clair; 2175th Military Police Company, of Boonville; 1139th Military Police Company, of Harrisonville; 1140th Military Police Company, of Fulton; 1221st Transportation Company, of Dexter; 3175th Military Police Company, of Kennett; 35th Engineer Brigade, of Fort Leonard Wood; 880th Engineer Team (Haul), of Perryville; 220th Engineer Company, of Festus; 1141st Engineer Company, of Kansas City; 203rd Engineer Battalion, of Joplin; 203rd Forward Support Company, of Joplin; 294th Engineer Company, of Carthage; 311th Brigade Support Battalion, of Lexington; Company A, 311th Brigade Support Battalion, of Nevada; 548th Transportation Company, of Trenton; 20th Combat Aviation Brigade, of Sedalia; 1107th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot, of Springfield; 935th Aviation Support Battalion, of Springfield; 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, of Kansas City; 35th Special Troops Battalion, of St. Joseph; Joint Force Missouri and Medical Detachment, of Jefferson City; and 7th Civil Support Team, of Fort Leonard Wood.