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    Newly reformed Florida State Guard activates for first time in 75 years

    Florida State Guard arrive in Live Oak to support Florida National Guard Soldiers

    Photo By Sgt. Spencer Rhodes | Florida Army National Guard 1st Lt. Addison Mcintosh briefs newly arrived Florida...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes 

    107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    After a 75-year hiatus, the recently reactivated and reorganized Florida State Guard, a supplemental, and state-funded military organization, has been given its first activation following Hurricane Idalia. Having just gone to their first official weekend drill days before Idalia made landfall, State Guardsman began arriving Friday morning in Live Oak, FL to relieve Florida National Guard Soldiers who had set up a point of distribution (POD) for food and water.
    “As an entity of the state of Florida, the purpose of the state guard is to provide assistance to the Florida National Guard,” said Florida State Guard 1st Lt. Tom Fabricio. “Unfortunately, Florida has the lowest ratio of guardsmen to citizens or residents compared to the other National Guards in the United States. The State Guard can augment that for situations like these, in this hurricane and others. It’s a force multiplier.”
    By noon on Friday, a consistent line of anywhere from six to twenty cars was continually forming at Live Oak’s Riverside Elementary School where the POD had been established. State Guardsman had fully assumed operations from their National Guard counterparts, asking residents what they needed, be it just food, or food, water and tarps for those with damaged homes. Each of the guardsmen seen loading supplies into different vehicles had different experiences that led them to join, but all seemed to hold a common desire to do something more for their communities in times of need.
    Fabricio’s introduction to the State Guard as a concept came a little earlier than most. As a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing South Florida’s District 110, Fabricio co-sponsored the bill that would later ratify the State Guard’s reinstatement. It wasn’t until he had been working on the bill with his peers, Fabricio says, that he realized it was something he wanted to do as well.
    He would be part of the first class of roughly 122 people who passed the initial 30-day basic training, many of whom were present at the Live Oak POD as well. Like the National Guard Soldiers they augment, those who joined come from a wide variety of experiences and places across the state.
    “We have folks who are extremely motivated, and folks who have prior military service, prior law enforcement or current law enforcement, and a bevy of other skills that are eager to help out,” said Fabricio. “It’s an organized form where we can work hand in glove with the Florida National Guard to help Floridians.”
    State Guardsman Robert Lentz, a Navy vet and current Florida Fish and Wildlife officer of 21 years, says it's just been a life of service for him and the State Guard is yet another way for him to expand on that.
    “I’m also kind of a history buff, and knowing what they went through in World War II, staying behind helping the home guard, I thought it would be kind of cool to carry on that tradition after a big gap in service,” said Lentz.
    Farther down the vehicle line from where Lentz was working, Jeremiah Sartain, a fellow guardsman, steps out of the sun and under an awning at one of the supply stations for a brief moment, having just finished loading food and water into a local’s pick up truck. Stopping only to take a drink of water and answer a few questions, the Palm Bay resident said he knew this was something he wanted to do.
    “I’m 41 and I want to give back to this state, and it’s a great state to live in,” said Sartain. “It's exciting, and makes me nervous as well to be activated for the first time, but I’m proud to be here and I want to do it again.”


    Date Taken: 09.02.2023
    Date Posted: 09.06.2023 12:00
    Story ID: 452700
    Location: FLORIDA, US

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