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    Motor transport Soldiers set up distribution hub to support Florida National Guard hurricane response

    Motor transport Soldiers set up distribution hub to support Florida National Guard hurricane response

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski | Spc. David Heuman secures a pallet of food to an M871A2 flatbed trailer with tie-down...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski 

    50th Regional Support Group

    Soldiers assigned to the Florida Army National Guard’s (FLRNG) 160th Transportation Company, 254th Transportation Battalion, set up a Brigade Support Area (BSA) at Bonita Springs High School in Bonita Springs, Florida, on Oct. 2, 2022, to support relief efforts in response to Hurricane Ian.

    FLRNG Soldiers are commonly activated during hurricane season in the Sunshine State. After disaster strikes, they are often seen working with civilian agencies in various operations, from search and rescue, to distributing emergency food and water at points of distribution in impacted areas.

    Whether a military operation’s focus is combat or humanitarian relief, a considerable support network always works behind the scenes to sustain the “boots on the ground” who are accomplishing the mission in the public eye. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the 160th is a crucial part of that network behind the scenes.

    “The 160th is establishing this BSA and trailer exchange point to provide logistical support for the Florida National Guard,” said Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Odette, 254th Transportation Battalion commander. “The units operating nearby will be able to resupply from this point, and we’ll be able to provide them with basic support functions if this mission takes on a longer duration.”

    Despite the damage caused by Hurricane Ian nearby, Bonita Springs High School’s good fortune in being relatively untouched will benefit the 160th’s mission by enabling a more rapid FLARNG response for Soldiers helping families in need of assistance.

    “This building is in the general area that was affected, but the structure was not impacted,” said Army 1st Lt. Bryan Avila, acting commander for the 160th Transportation Company. “This facility, with its large, open parking spaces is a perfect location to operate because our vehicles can turn and move supplies efficiently. It’s also close to the units we’re supporting, who are operating in the areas directly affected by Ian.”

    Odette said the BSA at Bonita Springs High School will provide a logistical backdrop to support 5,000 Soldiers in continuing their mission, but without drawing from resources intended for the civilian population. The importance of the 160th’s mission is not lost on junior enlisted Soldiers who make up the backbone their unit’s effort.

    “This experience has been intense,” said Spc. Nicole Sanchez, a motor transport operator. “On a normal drill weekend, we’ll have some time to relax, but on a mission like this, you have to move constantly and see which of your battle buddies needs help on your left and your right. You have to keep your head in the game because you never know what’s going to happen next.”

    Ian represents Sanchez’s first hurricane activation after recently transferring from New Jersey. Sanchez said she was driving for 10 hours with her unit the previous day to get to Bonita Springs. Once they arrived, they went straight to work preparing the BSA. Since then, Sanchez has been unloading supplies from incoming trailers and loading them onto outgoing trailers bound for troops serving in hurricane-affected areas.

    “This is what we signed up for, and we’re here to help in every way we can,” Avila said. “Our search-and-rescue teams from the 160th rescued 58 individuals when we were focused on that task. Now that we’re in a BSA operations role, we’ll do whatever we have to in supporting the units who are assisting families.”




    Date Taken: 10.02.2022
    Date Posted: 10.05.2022 08:45
    Story ID: 430662
    Location: BONITA SPRINGS, FL, US 

    Web Views: 83
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