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    CNG Soldiers activate to support local authorities during wildfire

    CNG Soldiers activate to support local authorities during wildfire

    Courtesy Photo | Roads throughout San Diego County were surveyed from the air to decide how to better...... read more read more


    Courtesy Story

    69th Public Affairs Detachment

    By Staff Sgt. Jessica Inigo
    40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office

    SAN DIEGO – A patchwork of approximately 1,500 California National Guard soldiers were alerted to Southern California early Monday morning to support local authorities with the wildfires that have blazed across the county throughout the week.

    The 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Kearny Mesa armory and the nearby Montgomery Airfield served as the main hub for its citizen-soldiers arriving across the state. Troops were then sent out to conduct roving patrols throughout newly reopened communities and in evacuation sites like the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Qualcomm Stadium.

    Members of the 1st Squadron, 18th Cavalry Regiment, out of Azusa, Calif., began going out in small teams to patrol communities once cleared from the fires changing path.

    Sgt. Seth Ladabouche, along with other members of C Troop, said he had been patrolling communities in the east county for more than 12 hours after the fires were cleared from the area. Charred trees and soot-covered buildings were the only marks left, while the handful of Poway hillside homes in the area remained unharmed from the fires. Traffic control points kept the general public away from houses, and patrolling troops within the communities ensured homes were not looted.

    In Del Mar, volunteers worked side-by-side with CNG Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry (Mechanized) helping to improve distribution points by separating donations and setting up cots. The growing evacuation site included a senior citizen home from the Rancho Bernardo area. The residents later had to be moved to the Balboa Naval Medical Center to better facilitate their needs, according to medical officials.

    Kevin Reilly, of the Department of Public Health, said moving the senior citizens went as "smooth as silk." He said through guidance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, CNG adjutant general that CNG and Naval troops performed the mission better than any drill he had ever seen.

    At Qualcomm Stadium, small groups of military police walked through crowds providing a show of presence and keeping the peace. During the day when there are many volunteers and activities planned, the stadium remains relatively calm. However, military police said things change a little at night and they increase their patrols, especially in the stadium parking lot.

    Medics also assisted at Qualcomm, including Sgt. Myesha Britt, of San Bernandino who has been a medic for five years and is the medical non-commissioned officer in charge of the 40th Military Police Company. She said she was happy to be called to duty for her community.

    "As a person, I like to help people. I do my best to try and help at home, to volunteer if I can," Britt said. "It inspired me, seeing all the people here helping. Anyway that I could help, whether it's helping people move stuff or if I could save a life, it would do me some good morally."

    And, just like the people they are helping, some CNG members in the area were also affected by the fire. Col. Eric Grimm, the 40th IBCT deputy commander and the acting Joint Task Force Commander during the wildfires, said that as of the fourth day of raging fires more than 100 troops were evacuated and may have lost their homes.

    Sgt. Franklin Purcell, also of the 18th CAV, said his wife was given a voluntary evacuation notice and his parent received a mandatory evacuation in Poway. When he was initially activated for the fire call-up, he became very stressed out, he said. Luckily as the Santa Ana winds calmed and the fires were contained, Purcell said he received word that his family was safe and well.

    Though the California National Guard has been activated to help for the fires and troops also remain as guards for the border mission, Grimm said there remains a sufficient capability to respond to any other state emergencies which may arrive.



    Date Taken: 10.26.2007
    Date Posted: 10.26.2007 14:31
    Story ID: 13362

    Web Views: 685
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