National Guard Rolls Out for Yet Another Midwest Storm

By Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2007 - More than 600 citizen-soldiers and airmen in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas have been called out in response to the latest in a series of severe winter storms to blanket the Midwest with snow and ice.

Missouri was among the hardest-hit states during the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend. More than 300,000 homes lost power. As a result, about 400 members of the Missouri National Guard have been called on for assistance.

"With the power outages and the ice, Gov. Matt Blunt wants to make sure all Missourians are kept safe in difficult situations," said Army Capt. Tammy Spicer, a Missouri Guard spokesman.

The Guard members have been focusing primarily on removing debris, providing power generation equipment and performing health and welfare checks throughout Missouri, Spicer said. Efforts by the National Guard are being concentrated in the southern part of the state, which was hardest hit by the storms.

In Texas, Guard troops responded in a similar fashion, ensuring roadways remained safe and passable. At times, that involved assisting stranded motorists and using Humvees to pull vehicles from roadways and other areas, said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada, a Texas Guard spokeswoman.

That was in addition to other duties.Gov. Rick Perry was sworn in today despite freezing rain. "We had National Guardsmen involved in that. Name it, and we're there," Moncada said.

The National Guard presence has brought a calming affect to many of those affected by the storm. "When people are in a situation like this, I think when someone in uniform shows up it gives a sense of safety in a difficult time," Spicer said.

"They welcome us with open arms," Moncada said about National Guardsmen. "It some ways, it's gotten to the point of if there is something wrong, call the Guard. They'll help."

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy is assigned to the National Guard Bureau.)

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