Table of Contents

Guardlife - Volume 31 No. 5

108th ARW Command Chief: Teamwork
By Command Chief Master Sgt. Joe Ortu

In any organization, effective Teamwork allows goals and objectives to be accomplished successfully. In the Profession of Arms, these goals and objectives equate to mission accomplishment.

As the National Guard evolves, our military relationships have expanded and Teamwork crosses unit and service lines more frequently than ever before.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted Americans in several states. The New Jersey National Guard's response to these disasters has been exceptional, unselfish and a great example of Teamwork. Soon after Katrina, it was determined that our mission would be to bring emergency shipments of water to the New Orleans area. Basically, the plan was to accept donations of bottled water from businesses and private citizens throughout the state. We would then transport that water, utilizing airlift to the New Orleans area. The positive Teamwork that was displayed by citizens, commercial establishments and, most of all, the members of the New Jersey National Guard in the days that followed was exemplary.

The Joint Operations Center in Lawrenceville coordinated the activities of both Army and Air components. The plan moved forward rapidly and encompassed many areas. It took teamwork to execute the plan and make things happen. While the basic plan sounds simple, it was not an easy task. Teamwork was required
to execute each phase of the plan. Labor Day weekend proved not to be an obstacle as volunteers sacrificed their personal and family time to meet the needs of the mission. For this mission, like all others, the Guard stepped up to the challenge. Volunteers from the 177th Fighter Wing in Atlantic City joined the team at the 108th, while Soldiers were busy manning the collection sites.

Local radio stations advertised the initiative and the water started flowing in. The Army National Guard utilized its community-based armories to accept donated bottled water. The armories are easily accessible to the general public and our generous citizens brought thousands of cases to these armories. Soldiers collected
water, palletized it and loaded it into trucks for delivery to a cargo staging area at McGuire AFB. Commercial establishments delivered tractor-trailer loads of water directly to the 108th. I met a passenger in a tractor-trailer loaded with water and as I thanked him for his delivery, he thanked us for our efforts. He was the president of the company supplying the water and just wanted to do his part to help his fellow Americans.

At the marshalling area, the water was downloaded from the trucks and palletized. The aircraft pallets must be “built” according to the aircraft they will be loaded on.

The first aircraft departing McGuire transported members of the 108th Security Forces Squadron. As always, they were prepared to do whatever was required, although unsure of their final destination or assignment.

The Naval Air Station New Orleans ramp was packed with Air Guard aircraft from the 108th, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Utah and Wisconsin. All had the same mission objective and shared the sense of urgency. Get in with the cargo, get it downloaded safely and get off the ground as soon as possible.

Over the course of the 10-day operation at the 108th, the morale, esprit de corps and Teamwork was fantastic. During the entire time, Guardsmen could be seen pitching in to help the Team in any way possible. Recurring comments included: “Glad to help out”, “Happy to pitch in” “Wish I could do more to help”, and “It's the
least we can do”.

Rest assured, that teamwork will continue, as it always has. While writing this article, Army and Air units were deploying to the Gulf region to further assist in operations. The 108th and 177th Civil Engineers have deployed to Gulfport, Miss., where they will work restoring base facilities.

Whatever your role in this task may have been, you made a valuable contribution. Vehicle operators, mechanics, logisticians, aircrew and supervisors all worked as one Team. New Jersey Guardsmen can and should be proud of their accomplishments in response to Katrina. Our Teamwork enabled us to deliver millions of bottles of water where it was needed and we know once again the
New Jersey National Guard has made a difference. Great job!