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NEWS | Oct. 12, 2016

Va. Guard supports state response to Hurricane Matthew

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

More than 160 Virginia National Guard Soldiers served on state active duty to assist with the multi-agency state response to Hurricane Matthew Oct. 9-10, 2016, in the Hampton Roads area. Soldiers driving Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks provided high water transportation and were also organized into teams with chain saws to help clear debris and open roads blocked by fallen trees.

“I am extremely pleased with how quickly and safely our forces were able to respond and provide assistance to law enforcement and emergency response organizations in the area impacted by the hurricane,” said said Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, director of the joint staff for the Virginia National Guard. He explained that multiple localities in the Hampton Roads area requested high mobility transport and debris reduction capabilities, and the Guard was able to get them the assistance they requested when they needed it.

“Our state and local partners expect us to be able to get forces on the ground in 12 hours, and that is exactly what we did,” Griffin said. “I am very proud of how our personnel responded, and we also owe a special thanks to their families and employers who continue to provide the critical support needed for mission success.”

Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 329th Regional Support Group conducted a variety of support missions including debris reduction, evacuating citizens seeking shelter and transporting law enforcement officers on route assessments to identify road hazards.

Virginia Guard leaders said they were also pleased with the leadership Soldiers demonstrated as they prepared for the mission.

“State active duty often provides an opportunity for our junior leaders to step up,” said Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Army. “When Command Sgt. Maj. Johnson and I visited with troops as they prepared for missions, I saw junior noncommissioned officers doing great work to make sure their Soldiers were ready to go if needed. They had the proper sense of urgency to be ready as quickly as possible, but they didn’t cut corners when it came to safety. I was very impressed with what I saw.”

Additional Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force were on duty in Sandston and Fort Pickett providing mission command, communications and logistical support for the operation.


Photos: 116th IBCT Soldiers clear blocked road in Va. Beach
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Raw video: Raw video: Va. Guard assists with Hurricane Matthew response
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Photos: Soldiers help clear debris in Virginia Beach
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Photos: Soldiers transport Hampton Police on route assessment
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