Wing responds to blizzard of state callouts
By Master Sgt. Mike Smith, 139th Airlift Wing
/ Published February 15, 2011
ST JOSEPH, MO. -- Airmen at the 139th Airlift Wing here were part of the recent callout of thousands of Guardmembers in response to severe weather, which buried the nation under record snowfalls, high winds and freezing temperatures.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Jan. 31 and called out about 600 Army and Air National Guard members on state active duty to support civilian authorities.
Across the state, Army Guard Soldiers helped civil authorities with health and wellness checks and emergency route clearing as well as provided equipment and personnel for communications, logistics and imagery, among other missions.
At Rosecrans Air Guard Base, 15 Airmen worked as liaison officers (LNOs) at the base's surrounding counties, while others setup an emergency operations center here to support the state's joint task force in Kansas City.
"For the state emergency, we had a 24-hour command post in operation here, we had LNOs in 15 counties, who made contact twice a day with their local county emergency managers," said Lt. Col. Carl Johnson, deputy support group commander.
The 139th Airlift Wing is designated as a lead Guard coordinator for those counties. The Wing's LNOs are trained to let them know how to get help from the National Guard in an emergency.
Officials here said the LNOs maintain their relationships with local emergency managers, who should know they are always available.
Johnson said the storm response "went fine," and that they are now working in after-action meetings to improve their response in the next call out, when it comes.
At the peak of the storm's response, 11 states activated or placed on standby more than 2,500 Guardmembers, reported Tech. Sgt. John Orrell at the National Guard Bureau. Of those, the Missouri Guard had the largest number of Soldiers and Airmen on duty.
While not part of the state response, Johnson said the base's snow removal team "did a great job" clearing roads and walkways.