Return to Guardlife Homepage
Answering the call...home and abroad
By Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General - New Jersey
TAG at Operation Jump Start

Storms have figured prominently in the most recent emergency response missions carried out by the New Jersey National Guard.

In one case, flood conditions which overwhelmed several communities and required a rapid response from our personnel and equipment. In another case, rain helped dowse a raging wildfire that National Guard helicopters were helping to bring under control. Our National Guard forces were there to assist civilian and governmental agencies in containing the ravaging effects of water or fire…helping to maintain security and order among the chaos.

When the latest Nor’easter hit Northern New Jersey – dumping up to nine inches of rain in some areas and causing rivers to rise several feet above flood level – our troops and equipment hit the streets. From deuce-and-a-halves…to five-ton vehicles…to Hemmets and Humvees…we helped get emergency personnel in and out of flooded areas. Our soldiers also teamed up with state troopers to control access to flooded neighborhoods, keeping homes secure until their owners could safely return. Standing watch shoulder-to-shoulder with New Jersey’s finest illustrated the true team spirit with which our troops conduct a joint-agency mission.

In the midst of the wildfire southern Ocean County, New Jersey Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crews and helicopters immediately swung into action. Supporting the
N.J.Forest Fire Service, our helicopters carried Bambi buckets filled with water to help dowse pockets of fire.
As the last embers of the fire were dying out, members of the 177th Fighter Wing arrived to assist local residents sort through their belongings that were damaged or destroyed during the fire. The 177th Civil Engineers used heavy equipment to clear lots and help residents prepare for the tough task of re-building their homes…and their lives.
“One Team, One Fight” has always been an unofficial motto at the 177th…and the support they provided to the Air Force claims processing team shows that spirit is alive and well. When active duty Air Force legal and finance personnel arrived to process damage claims by local citizens, members of both the 177th and the New Jersey Army National Guard were there to provide administrative and other assistance. The full-time staff at the Tuckerton Armory provided working space, equipment and additional support.

At around the same time that these clean-up efforts were underway, Soldiers from the 42nd Regional Support Group were deployed to Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) stations to beef up the security presence at these vital transportation hubs. Side-by-side with Port Authority Police, our Guardsmen are helping deter threats to daily commuters on this busy system.

Yet, even as we respond to disasters and threats at home, we continue to fight the Global War on Terrorism. This summer, Airmen and Soldiers are rotating out to Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, 148 of our Soldiers have returned from their extended tour in Iraq. The men and women of the 117th Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting, Acquisition and the 250th Brigade Support Battalion have bravely endured a Soldier’s worst nightmare: a last-minute extension of their already year-long tour. But these Soldiers have stood the test and returned to a well-deserved welcome home.

These deployments show that the business of defending our nation continues even as the business of helping our neighbors continues. With all the activity in-state and overseas, I am proud to say that the New Jersey National Guard has met the tempo and pace of current events. As the old saying goes, “when it rains…it pours!” But even if it pours, our Soldiers and Airmen are ready to respond to whatever challenges may come our way…come hell or high water!

Table of Contents
Volume 33 Number 2 Staff / Information
(c) 2006 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs