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    Reflections as a South Carolina National Guard facility feels empty this Thanksgiving

    Reflections as a South Carolina National Guard facility feels empty this Thanksgiving

    Courtesy Photo | U.S. Army Staff. Sgt. Roby Di Giovine, combat-camera photojournalist in 59th Aviation...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Cindi King 

    South Carolina National Guard

    Rows of South Carolina Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters usually fill the busy flight line located in the Upstate, providing a welcoming scene for visitors who peer through the big bay hangar window of the Donaldson Center in Greenville, South Carolina. With the onset of the holiday season, Staff Sgt. Roby Di Giovine, a combat camera photojournalist assigned to the 59th Aviation Troop Command, South Carolina Army National Guard, reflected on the feeling of both pride and loneliness at the facility, as he recognizes the Soldiers and his comrades assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment, who are now deployed to Afghanistan.

    “Exactly a year ago, my buddies were dropping water on Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain from their helicopters in order to contain the wildfires on the South Carolina-North Carolina border, said Di Giovine. “During those days, I was flying with them, taking pictures, sharing their story.”

    Di Giovine added, a month prior to the wildfires, his unit was responding to Hurricane Matthew, landing on a football field in Beaufort, South Carolina, to deliver food and water to the local communities.

    “I was there, with them, taking pictures of my friends and comrades who were saving lives,” said Di Giovine.

    In 2015, elements of 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment and the South Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Teams were flying rescue missions on both UH-60 Black Hawks and LUH-72A Lakota helicopters, while Chinooks were dropping sandbags in the downtown Columbia canal to repair the city’s water supply. These efforts were part of the nearly 4,000 South Carolina National Guard troops who responded to recovery efforts after the devastating floods in October that impacted the state. Di Giovine was with the units on these missions too, documenting their efforts.

    “Both in 2015 and 2016, these aviation crews worked uninterruptedly for weeks, through Thanksgiving and some crews straight through the holidays,” said Di Giovine. “They did it with dedication, and now they continue this selfless service deployed to Afghanistan.”

    This year, in addition to the Chinook crews and their fellow 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance battalion with Apache helicopters deployed to Afghanistan, two UH-60 Black Hawk crews and Aviation planners supported Hurricane Harvey efforts in Texas and in Puerto Rico. Di Giovine said that although he is not always provided a seat to document all of the missions, he always seeks ways to ensure these Soldiers are recognized.

    “Most people will probably never experience eating cold turkey while sitting on a Chinook ramp,” said Di Giovine. “This Thanksgiving and holidays, whether there are troops supporting at home or overseas, perhaps some of our thoughts and prayers could and should be for them and for my buddies--the Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, and their families.”

    As he walked through the nearly empty maintenance bay, he stopped and looked around for one more reflection of the Soldiers he is both proud of and missing this holiday season.

    “It’s is never about me, it’s always all about and for them,” said Di Giovine.



    Date Taken: 11.19.2017
    Date Posted: 11.19.2017 23:44
    Story ID: 255893
    Location: GREENVILLE, SC, US 

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