Utah National Guard Supports

Hurricane Relief: Guard Members and

Local Citizens Tell the Story

 

Photo Gallery>>>

 

Compiled by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee and Maj. Hank McIntire

Published October 17, 2005

       
A rural intersection in Southwestern Louisiana following the devastation caused by Hurricane Rita.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde

A rural intersection in Cow Island, La., following

the devastation caused by Hurricane Rita.

ABBEVILLE, La. Approximately 500 Soldiers and Airmen of the Utah National Guard answered the call in September and October to assist with relief and reconstruction efforts in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

When they received word that their counterparts in the Gulf needed help, Utah Guard members from communities throughout the state were on the ground  within hours to fulfill a variety of missions to include construction; cleanup of debris; search and rescue; hazardous material assessment; security patrols; traffic and crowd control; food, ice and water distribution; transportation and airlift; medical support; community relations and public affairs.

Air National Guard and Army Artillery, Aviation, Engineer, Medical, Military Intelligence, Special Forces, Troop Command, Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team and Joint Forces

Members of the 19th Special Forces Group wade through a flooded area in Louisiana.

Photo by Team Raven, Utah National Guard

Members of the 19th Special Forces Group wade

through a flooded area in Louisiana.

Headquarters units sent some of their best and brightest to fulfill these critical duties.

Utah Soldiers and Airmen have joined more than 50,000 National Guard members from 53 other states and territories who have sent personnel and equipment to support the relief effort.

While a few have returned to Utah, most of these dedicated men and women remain in the hurricane-affected area and continue their mission of serving their fellow Americans

In their own words, Soldiers tell their story and local citizens and media praise what the Utah National Guard has done to assist them in their hour of need:

 

Sgt. Baltazar Chicas, 1-145th Field Artillery

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Sgt. Baltazar Chicas, 1-145th Field Artillery

Sgt. Baltazar Chicas, 1-145th Field Artillery, small-arms repairman, Layton: 

I've never done this before. I love the support our families give us back home. We can't do what we do without their support.

I want everyone to know how nice the people are here. The local citizens here are very supportive.  I’m proud that we have made a difference.

 

 

Pvt. Timothy Webster, 1-145th Field Artillery, light-wheeled vehicle mechanic, Orem: 

I never saw a flooded home before I came here. Our first day here we helped a woman clean mud from her home. For us to get across the water, we had to use a truck to get from the road to the house. Everything she picked up was a memory that is now gone forever. It was tough.

These are the nicest people I've ever met in my life.

 

Spc. James Tucker, 2-222nd Field Artillery

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Spc. James Tucker, 2-222nd Field Artillery

Spc. James Tucker, 2-222nd Field Artillery electronic maintenance specialist, Monroe:

I now realize how much our help is needed in Louisiana. We are making such an impact here.

 

Sgt. Coby Jenks, Delta Company, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, translator/interpreter, Cedar City:


I helped provide security for the Department of Social Services here.  I speak Spanish and my second language has been a great asset here. I interpreted for people who don't speak English that well.  It really came in handy when the $2,000 debit cards were issued by FEMA.
 

 

Spc. William Lewis, 1-145th Field Artillery

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Spc. William Lewis, 1-145th Field Artillery

Spc. William Lewis, Alpha Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery, cannon crewman, Fillmore:

I love working with the children here. They are happy. The parents let us play with them.  It gives them a break.  And I like working hand-in-hand with the locals here in Vermilion Parish.  They work just as hard as we do."

 

Reported by Gale Rose of the Pratt (Kansas) Tribune and attributed to Mike Winkel, a human services specialist who traveled to Louisiana from Kansas to assist with processing Food Stamp Disaster Benefit recipients: 

The Social and Rehabilitation Services had vital assistance from the Utah National Guard with crowd control. The Guard kept the people organized in lines and made sure that when one line was complete that the person who was first in the next line was the next person to be interviewed, Winkel said.

 

1st Sgt. Dale Sellers, 1-145th Field Artillery

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

1st Sgt. Dale Sellers, 1-145th Field Artillery

1st Sgt. Dale Sellers, Headquarters Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery, Hanksville:

Working with the locals here and having them appreciate us coming here to help means a lot. They are constantly complimenting us wherever we go. 

These people are very self-sufficient and patriotic and want things to get back to normal as soon as possible. They are not looking for a handout; just reinforcement to get back on their feet.

 

Warrant Officer Sean Shepherd, 1-145th Field Artillery

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Warrant Officer Sean Shepherd,

1-145th Field Artillery

Warrant Officer Sean Shepherd, 1-145th Field Artillery, battalion maintenance technician, Riverton:

People here are not selfish. They want just enough for themselves.  They seem to be more worried about their neighbors. They are very receptive of the Guard.

These folks are hardworking people. They got a great attitude despite what they've been through. They are not sitting around waiting for the government to come help them. They are out here with us cleaning, working, and helping.

 

A Utah Guard member finds a "friend" during cleanup duty at a Pecan Island, La. cemetery.

Photo by Danny Martin

A Utah Guard member finds a "friend" during

cleanup duty at a Pecan Island, La., cemetery.

Danny Martin, local resident and business owner, Carencro, La.:

Just wanted you to know how much we appreciate your men coming down here to Louisiana and helping us in our time of need. God bless you all!

I’m sending a few pictures we took today, Sunday, Oct. 16, on Pecan Island of your men working to fix a cemetery and a little Louisiana pet they found. Alligators are cute when they're small, but they carry a vicious bite when they get bigger.

The cemetery was covered in three feet of marsh grass washed in by the storm. Most troops were clearing it by hand as they did not have pitchforks.

Lt. Col. Robert Dunton, Task Force Sapper commander, surveys hurricane damage in Louisiana from the air.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde

Lt. Col. Robert Dunton, Task Force Sapper commander,

surveys hurricane damage in Louisiana from the air.

You could never know how much we people in Southwest Louisiana think of these fine men. Again, God bless them and keep them safe.

Thank you for your service.

 

John Leblanc, an Erath, La., city councilman:

We welcome them with open arms because we needed the help. We really needed it.

They've become a part of our extended family. They are now Cajun.

 

Capt. Michael Turley, 1457th Engineer Battalion, briefs his Soldiers on an upcoming mission assignment in Abbeville, La.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde

Capt. Michael Turley, 1457th Engineer Battalion, briefs his Soldiers on an upcoming mission assignment in Abbeville, La.

Capt. Michael Turley, 1457th Engineer Battalion, Bravo Company Commander, West Jordan:

It's important from the aspect of the local population. They need to feel effort is being made on their behalf. Progress is really being made and I think, in a sense, we're doing that for them.

The folks in Vermilion Parish have been so nice to us. They appreciate what we are doing, and that makes us want to work much harder.

 

Sgt. Richard Neisporek, Alpha Company, 1457th Engineers.

Photo by 1st Lt. Wayne Lee

Sgt. Richard Neisporek, Alpha Company, 1457th Engineers.

Sgt. Richard Neisporek, Alpha Company, 1457th Engineers, Combat Engineer, Tooele:

The people of New Orleans are out helping their neighbors. It's an awesome to see this happening. People have overall been nice to us. Always glad to see us.

You hear a lot about the criminal element, the looting, and other problems. There's still a lot of good here. Some have said it's as bad as Baghdad. I've served in Baghdad. This isn't even close.

 


Sgt. Sheldon Holgreen, Bravo company, 1457th Engineers.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Sgt. Sheldon Holgreen, Bravo company, 1457th Engineers.

Sgt. Sheldon Holgreen, Bravo Company, 1457th Engineers, Combat Engineer, Mt. Pleasant:

I'll never forget going through the swamps looking for caskets that floated away from cemeteries. I felt bad for the families who lost everything and then to have their loved ones' caskets displaced.

The media have made everyone here to be looters. The fact is everyone we've met has been nice, respectful, and been helpful. It's a small group of people who are looting in relation to the city's population.

 


Sgt. Timothy Hinton, Delta Company, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Sgt. Timothy Hinton, Delta Company,

141st Military Intelligence Battalion.

Sgt. Timothy Hinton, Delta Company, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, Cedar City:

Early on in the mission, we helped a family clean mud out of their house. The house sat on 4-foot pillars and the water line was two feet from the roof. An inch of slimey, black mud was inside the house. The family was very appreciative of the Utah Guard's being here to help.

When we first got here, the streets were abandoned by 7 p.m. It seemeed surreal.


Houses were dark. Abandoned cars were still covered in salt dust from the flooding. Now, the city has a 2 a.m-6 a.m. curfew. Every day you can see life coming back to the city.

 


 

Cadet Kenneth McArthur, Bravo Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Cadet Kenneth McArthur, Bravo Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery.

 

Cadet Kenneth McArthur, Bravo Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery, Paladin howitzer driver, Cedar City:

Southern hospitallity is alive and well here in New Orleans. "These people have lost everything but are willing to give you the shirt off their backs. It's amazing to see.

New Orleans is not as hostile as the media portrays it to be. The people here are friendly and really nice.

 

 

 

 


Spc. Jason Fowles, Bravo Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Wayne Lee

Spc. Jason Fowles, Bravo Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery.

 

Spc. Jason Fowles, Bravo Battery, 1-145th FA, Paladin howitzer driver, Cedar City:

What I'll remember most is the kindness of the people of Louisiana.

There is no conflict between the military and the New Orleans Police Department. My experience has been the opposite. It's more like a partnership.

 

 

 

 

 


Approximately 375 Utah Guard members remain in Louisiana. Until Oct. 17 they were stationed in Abbeville but have recently been tasked to relocate to New Orleans to assist with security missions there. They will remain in Louisiana until the end of October when they will return to Utah.