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103rd Task Force gets the call for flood relief

Rain from the days prior to March 31, 2010, devastated homes and roads in Jewett City, Conn. Waters reached four feet deep at the nearby sewer treatment plant requiring the National Guard to be called up to aid in pumping the water back into the Quinebaug River. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Rain from the days prior to March 31, 2010, devastated homes and roads in Jewett City, Conn. Waters reached four feet deep at the nearby sewer treatment plant requiring the National Guard to be called up to aid in pumping the water back into the Quinebaug River. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Senior Airman Christopher Devine inspects the wheel of his light medium tactical vehicle as the 103rd Air Control Squadron prepares to convoy back to Orange, Conn. after remaining on alert status at Camp Rell, Niantic, Conn. in support of flood relief March 31, 2010. Part of the 103rd Task Force, Devine’s mission capability included using the LMTVs to rescue people trapped because of high waters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

Senior Airman Christopher Devine inspects the wheel of his light medium tactical vehicle as the 103rd Air Control Squadron prepares to convoy back to Orange, Conn. after remaining on alert status at Camp Rell, Niantic, Conn. in support of flood relief March 31, 2010. Part of the 103rd Task Force, Devine’s mission capability included using the LMTVs to rescue people trapped because of high waters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Mead)

CAMP RELL, Niantic, Conn. -- The Connecticut Air National Guard was called up to aid in flood relief in Connecticut March 30, 2010, as part of a joint effort with the Connecticut Army Guard.

The 103rd Air Control Squadron from Orange, Conn. and the 103rd Airlift Wing from East Granby, Conn. were both assigned to the 103rd Task Force at Camp Rell, Niantic, Conn. to support high-water rescue missions.

"This mission highlighted for us high-water rescue operations. That's why we tapped the 103rd ACS and their LMTVs [light medium tactical vehicles] in order to support any type of water rescue. We also had individuals with other capabilities that could be used to augment local authorities in the event that they were needed," said Lt. Col. Timothy Symonds, commander of the 103rd Task Force and the 103rd Communications Squadron at Bradley Air National Guard Base.

These LMTVs are able to go into high water or moving water to rescue people that may have been trapped, said Symonds.

To compliment the rescue vehicles, a few Airmen who were civilian emergency medical responders were available with bags ready-in-hand to assist if needed.

With serving the nation and going overseas, most Soldiers and Airmen deploy according to their job classifications of specialty codes but, with state missions, that is not always the case, said Symonds.

"You may be called out to do things you normally wouldn't do: sandbagging, maybe heavy lifting, maybe driving a specific type of vehicle or assisting others driving vehicles or directing traffic, etcetera," said Symonds.

"It was a very engaging experience. It's something that you hear about on the Air National Guard recruiting brochure about being called for state-wide emergencies," said Senior Airman Vincent Zotto, health services technician, 103rd Medical Group.

Guardsmen were called up during the day and headed down to Camp Rell within a few hours.

"I instantly felt that it was my duty as a Guardsman to support my state and surrounding states during a natural disaster. That is part of our responsibility to our state. I was happy to help in any way they needed me, and will not hesitate to volunteer for anything my state or Governor needs of me in the future," said Tech. Sgt. Johnny D. Ross, human resource systems manager for the 103rd Force Support Squadron.

Although the Guardsmen did not have to tread the waters searching for the stranded and trapped, which some may argue to be a good thing, they had a common thread of understanding that what they were doing was necessary.

"Even though we were not tasked for a mission, it was a good feeling to be tasked for an event such as this. I would definitely volunteer for another mission whether it is state-side or nation-wide," said Zotto.