Answering the call...home and abroad
By Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General -
Storms have figured prominently in the most recent emergency response
missions carried out by the New Jersey National Guard.
In one case, flood conditions which overwhelmed several communities
and required a rapid response from our personnel and equipment. In another
case, rain helped dowse a raging wildfire that National Guard helicopters
were helping to bring under control. Our National Guard forces were
there to assist civilian and governmental agencies in containing the
ravaging effects of water or fire…helping to maintain security
and order among the chaos.
When the latest Nor’easter hit Northern New Jersey – dumping
up to nine inches of rain in some areas and causing rivers to rise several
feet above flood level – our troops and equipment hit the streets.
From deuce-and-a-halves…to five-ton vehicles…to Hemmets
and Humvees…we helped get emergency personnel in and out of flooded
areas. Our soldiers also teamed up with state troopers to control access
to flooded neighborhoods, keeping homes secure until their owners could
safely return. Standing watch shoulder-to-shoulder with New Jersey’s
finest illustrated the true team spirit with which our troops conduct
a joint-agency mission.
In the midst of the wildfire southern Ocean County, New Jersey Army
National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crews and helicopters immediately swung
into action. Supporting the
N.J.Forest Fire Service, our helicopters carried Bambi buckets filled
with water to help dowse pockets of fire.
As the last embers of the fire were dying out, members of the 177th
Fighter Wing arrived to assist local residents sort through their belongings
that were damaged or destroyed during the fire. The 177th Civil Engineers
used heavy equipment to clear lots and help residents prepare for the
tough task of re-building their homes…and their lives.
“One Team, One Fight” has always been an unofficial motto
at the 177th…and the support they provided to the Air Force claims
processing team shows that spirit is alive and well. When active duty
Air Force legal and finance personnel arrived to process damage claims
by local citizens, members of both the 177th and the New Jersey Army
National Guard were there to provide administrative and other assistance.
The full-time staff at the Tuckerton Armory provided working space,
equipment and additional support.
At around the same time that these clean-up efforts were underway, Soldiers
from the 42nd Regional Support Group were deployed to Port Authority
Trans-Hudson (PATH) stations to beef up the security presence at these
vital transportation hubs. Side-by-side with Port Authority Police,
our Guardsmen are helping deter threats to daily commuters on this busy
Yet, even as we respond to disasters and threats at home, we continue
to fight the Global War on Terrorism. This summer, Airmen and Soldiers
are rotating out to Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, 148 of our
Soldiers have returned from their extended tour in Iraq. The men and
women of the 117th Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting, Acquisition
and the 250th Brigade Support Battalion have bravely endured a Soldier’s
worst nightmare: a last-minute extension of their already year-long
tour. But these Soldiers have stood the test and returned to a well-deserved
These deployments show that the business of defending our nation continues
even as the business of helping our neighbors continues. With all the
activity in-state and overseas, I am proud to say that the New Jersey
National Guard has met the tempo and pace of current events. As the
old saying goes, “when it rains…it pours!” But even
if it pours, our Soldiers and Airmen are ready to respond to whatever
challenges may come our way…come hell or high water!