News: SC National Guard makes deliveries on Valentine's Day - of salt
Story by Sgt. Brian Calhoun
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Valentine's Day is traditionally filled with candy and flower deliveries, overflowing with a sense of giving and love. On Feb. 14, 2014, members of the S.C. Army National Guard were making deliveries of another sort. Salt. And lots of it.
For two days, more than 80 S.C. Army National Guard soldiers assigned to the 122nd Engineer Battalion and 178th Engineer Battalion have hauled more 1,400 tons of salt from Charleston, S.C to Columbia, S.C. in response to the latest winter storm to that nearly crippled many states along the eastern seaboard, including much of South Carolina.
On Feb. 11, 2014, Gov. Nikki Haley, declared a State of Emergency in preparation for a winter storm that would eventually dump nearly 10 inches of snow in some areas of the upstate, while other areas of the state were blanketed with heavy ice that brought down trees and power lines. This was the second winter storm to hit the region in the past two weeks.
The engineers' mission came at the requests of the S.C. Dept. of Transportation to haul salt from the intermodal bulk terminal here to a central storage and distribution location in Columbia, S.C. From there, state DOT workers would transport the road salt to areas of the state in an effort to free roadways of ice.
“Yesterday we hauled 20 loads of salt, nearly 307 tons from North Charleston to Columbia,” said Sgt. First Class Larry Leech, noncommissioned officer-in-charge for one of the two groups of engineers. “We made two round-trips to the terminal yesterday with each trip taking almost six hours to complete.”
Leech said that his team was putting in long hours and have done everything they were asked to do.
For some of the engineers, this is the first time they have been mobilized to help with a state-wide support mission, despite the fact that a few have left family members who are themselves stuck at home and without power.
“I find satisfaction in knowing that I am out doing something to help the citizens of South Carolina instead of sitting at home and watching it all unfold on TV," said Staff Sgt. Brian Holderness, an engineer with the 122nd Engineer Battalion. "I feel like I am able to do my part to get things going again."
On this Valentine’s Day, even though these soldiers found themselves away from loved ones and will miss the crowded restaurants for dinner with their sweethearts, members of this group have been showered with support by the community and feel the appreciation for their labors.
Leech said that between trips to Charleston yesterday his team stopped at a at the fueling station and a lady was inquiring to find out who was in charge of the group. She was directed to me and said that she wanted to help pay for lunch as a thank you.
''I didn’t know what to say," said Leech.
Leech added it was through the kindness of this citizen, who appreciated the work of the S.C. National Guard, the team was reminded of the gratitude of the community.