Connecticut Guard has an answer for Sandy

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jefferson S. Heiland
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
Approximately 850 members from the Connecticut Army and Air National Guard were called up for state-active duty Oct. 31, 2012, in response to the destruction caused by Super Storm Sandy that blew into Connecticut October 29. Guardsmen were involved with initial emergency response preparations as early as Saturday, October 27 to be ready to execute a variety of missions from brush clean-up with chainsaw crews to dropping off generators and performing Search and Rescue missions with high-wheeled vehicles. Connecticut Airmen and Soldiers also were called to Rentschler Field to operate a commodities distribution center.

The commodities, water bottles and meals-ready-to-eat, are being distributed to various towns in Connecticut that requested emergency assistance. Truck loads are being distributed throughout the state with the focus on the hardest hit areas along the shoreline and Fairfield County.

With a potential Nor'easter expected mid-week that may complicate matters, 24-hour operations at the distribution center will continue at least until then according to Col. Roy Walton,103rd Mission Support Group commander.

"It's been long days and a lot of hard work, but I can't say enough about the commitment and dedication that our Airmen and Soldiers have displayed here this week. I think it really says a lot about the unique relationship that our Guardsmen have with the local communities--this is exactly the type of mission that highlights how important the National Guard is when we can leverage our resources for the state mission," Walton said.

Day-shift operations at Rentschler Field were run by Connecticut's Air National Guardsmen that included expert forklift operators from the 103rd Logistic Readiness Squadron.

"This is really what we joined [the Guard] for is to help people in need. Your day-to-day job is your day-to-day job, to me if you can help people--I think most people feel good when they help somebody," said Senior Master Sgt. Jay Fournier of the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. Fournier was part of the operations at Rentschler Field.

Other Flying Yankees assisted Milford Firefighters who responded to many calls near the shore including one where a house had collapsed. The fire department had to send divers in to shut off gas lines in the fallen home and about five neighboring homes. Senior Airman Eric Lutz, 103rd Maintenance Squadron, was one of the Airmen that was part of the mission.

"[Working] hands-on with the civilian emergency response has been amazing," Lutz said. "It feels good to help the community."