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    Mortuary affairs elements ready to support Hurricane Florence relief efforts

    Mortuary affairs ready to support Hurricane Florence relief efforts

    Photo By Terrance Bell | Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Stoner, 111th Quartermaster Company, looks over the alignment of...... read more read more



    Story by Terrance Bell 

    U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee Public Affairs

    FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 18, 2018) -- Two units here may become part of the massive humanitarian relief mission in the Carolinas where flooding and wind damage from Hurricane and Tropical Storm Florence has left residents with austere and potentially life-threatening conditions.

    The 54th and 111th Quartermaster companies – elements of the 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Trans. Brigade (Expeditionary), headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis – have been prepping since Sunday for the possibility of joining the ever-growing relief and recovery efforts that are already being supported by a massive National Guard and Reserve task force.

    As of press time, Lt. Col. Damien Boffardi, commander of the 11th Trans. Bn., did not know how many of his personnel would deploy in support of the effort or in what capacity the units might serve, but confidently said they are ready.

    “With everything going on across the East Coast, you have to be prepared regardless,” he noted Monday afternoon amidst throngs of Soldiers and bustling activity in the unit motor pool. “That’s because readiness is the most important thing across the Army.”

    Hurricane Florence, which had been downgraded to a category one storm before it made landfall in North Carolina Friday, pummeled coastal residents with 90 mph sustained wind speeds and unrelenting rain exacerbated by the system’s snail pace south-westerly movement. By the time it was reclassified as a tropical storm on Sunday, Florence had caused widespread flooding and power outages affecting hundreds of thousands.

    As of Tuesday morning, national news outlets were reporting 32 storm-related casualties. Wilmington, one of the largest cities in North Carolina, is mostly inaccessible due to flood waters. Military trucks and helicopters are among the emergency assets providing rescue support and humanitarian supply movement. Support troops on the ground include Army Sustainers who are performing search and rescue, transportation, refueling and several other humanitarian assistance missions.

    The 54th and 111th QM companies are highly specialized logistical units whose primary missions are to recover and care for remains during war and conflict. It has an array of high-water operating vehicle assets to fulfill its mission to include Humvees, cargo trucks and load-handling systems.

    If called upon to support the DOD effort, there is a possibility unit personnel may employ some of their core competencies, however, they are more likely to undertake common logistical requirements such as transporting people, supplies and equipment.

    “Right now, it’s all about having the vehicles prepped and ready to go,” said Boffardi, downplaying mission specifics. “It’s not about what we’re going to be doing, where we are going or anything else.”

    Spc. Zachary Folks, a 54th QM Co. Soldier and Bamberg, S.C. native who said most of his hometown was not impacted by the storm, was clearly appreciative of this potential opportunity to help others who were not as fortunate.

    “I woke up this morning so grateful to be able to go to the refrigerator and get something to eat. My clothes were intact and everything else was safe and sound,” he said, noting he recently spoke to family members who said they are OK. “We owe it to our citizens to help, to give a lending hand. I’m looking forward to helping those families in need.”

    The 54th and 111th are Fort Lee’s only deployable elements and the Army’s only active duty mortuary affairs units.

    The 7th Trans. Bde., also has several other units preparing for disaster relief. If those elements are deployed, they will bolster a force of 13,000 Soldiers from active duty units, the National Guard and Army Reserve that are contributing to the DOD mission in several states.

    As of Sunday, Total Army assets included 90 rotary wing aircraft with more available if necessary; 30 watercraft; and roughly 3,000 water-fording vehicles. Additionally, the force has available 4,500 cots, 200 medical beds and 18 water purification systems.

    Furthermore, the Army Corps of Engineers has deployed more than 100 personnel assigned to support various aspects of the mission and has pre-positioned 132 power generators to assist with electricity requirements.



    Date Taken: 09.18.2018
    Date Posted: 09.18.2018 15:45
    Story ID: 293367
    Location: FORT LEE, VA, US 

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