|Sgt. Samuel Clark, assigned to 3656th Maintenance Company, hands a case of water to a St. Croix, Virgin Islands, resident on October 1, 2017. More than 200 Mississippi Guardsmen are in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as part of Task Force Crazy Train to support hurricane relief efforts. |
More than 300 Soldiers and Airmen of the Mississippi National Guard have been assisting in hurricane relief efforts across several states and U.S. territories since mid-September.
Earlier this month, Guardsmen of the 890th Engineer Battalion and 113th Military Police Company assessed damage and assisted residents along the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricane Nate. Roadways were washed away and homes sustained structural damage when it made landfall Oct. 7.
The MSNG has deployed more than 200 Soldiers and Airmen in support of relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands devastated by Hurricane Maria.
The 172d Airlift Wing and the Tennessee National Guard’s 164th Airlift Wing have transported various equipment and 72 Soldiers of Mississippi’s 298th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, headquartered in Philadelphia, to the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas from Flowood’s Thompson Field.
“The Air Force is doing a huge lift capability. There’s a lot of equipment actually being sent by C-17 [Globemaster III] and C-130 [Hercules], and there are multiple states and their Air National Guards that are involved with that,” said Lt. Col. Jody M. Smith, director of the MSNG Directorate of Military Support.
Smith said MSNG service members are assisting in various logistical support roles on the islands, such as manning dining facilities and maintenance areas, and providing general operational support to sustain the hurricane relief effort. The MSNG is also providing high water vehicles, cranes, refueling capabilities, generators and other equipment to help sustain and improve life for the citizens on the islands.
Smith said the MSNG also has 23 Airmen from the 172d AW and Meridian’s 186th Air Refueling Wing providing support, such as air traffic control, in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to damage to the region’s communication systems.
The funding for these operations comes from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact agreement, the U.S. state-to-state mutual aid system.
“The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency have been instrumental in assisting us with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and helping us work through the processes so that we can ensure that we do everything legally and that our Soldiers and Airmen are taken care of,” said Smith.
In addition, the MSNG is providing personnel, equipment, and facility support for Hurricanes Irma and Harvey recovery operations.
Approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen are currently providing support in Florida, Texas, and several other locations throughout the country.
Two 15-Soldier CH-47 Chinook helicopter crews from Meridian’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment are in Florida to conduct aerial commodity movement operations.
Approximately 70 Airmen from Meridian’s 186th Air Refueling Wing are deployed to locations in Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Colorado, and Texas. The guardsmen have provided search and rescue, coordination, and planning support.
Approximately 15 172d AW personnel have assisted with commodity distribution support in Florida. The Flowood-based unit is also receiving aircraft from around the nation tasked with transporting supplies to Florida.
Finally, Gulfport’s Combat Readiness Training Center – Battlefield Airmen Center has received aircraft from several states enroute to Florida.