When the world changed so did the
Washington Military Department
Learn about the
Commander in Chief Washington State Governor The Honorable Jay Inslee The Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty Communications Director Karina Shagren State Public Affairs Officer Joseph Siemandel Contributors Michael Brown Kim Burke Tim Chacon Colette Mueller Steven Friederich John Hughel Sara Morris Mike Stewart Aly Teeter-Baker Cindi King Ernest Wang
ON THE COVER Fred the Minuteman dawns a protective mask in support of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy campaign.
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Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, Commanding General, Washington Army National Guard gives U.S. Vice President Mike Pence an elbow bump during his visit to the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray, Wash. on March 5, 2020. The Vice President visited to learn about the impacts of COVID-19 on the state of Washington. (Photo by Steven Friederich)
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T BLE of CONTENTS
Answering The Call
40 years after Mt. St. Helenâ€™s eruption, the Guard continues to answer the call.
Built To Respond
COVID-19 changed the world and the way we live. Find out what the Department is doing to help.
Continuing The Mission
Bravo Company 1-168 GSAB deploys for the third time in 10 years to the Middle East.
Critical Communications 10th Civil Support Team showcases disaster recovery communications equipment at Capitol.
Washington Emergency Management is bringing more powerful Wi-Fi to areas in need.
341st Military Intelligence Takes Top Honors Again at Language Conference
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40 years after Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, the Guard continues to answer the call Washington’s landscape forever changed on the morning of May 18, 1980, when Mount St. Helens unleashed the largest volcanic eruption in our nation’s history. Washington National Guard aviation crews in Yakima for their annual training saw the devastation and knew help was needed. Those brave citizen-soldiers risked their lives to save their fellow Washingtonians caught in the path of destruction. In the weeks and months to follow more Guardsmen were called to support the state’s recovery, clean up and reopening efforts. President Jimmy Carter would call this perhaps the National Guard’s finest peace time response. The economic impacts were in the billions, the loss of life could have been much worse if not for the pilots and crews who immediately responded. Since the eruption of Mount St. Helens the Washington National Guard has actively engaged in many of our state’s largest natural and man-made disasters. In the summer of 1994, more than 2,700 Guardsmen were called to support wildland firefighters who were battling, at that time, the worst fire season in state history. In November of 1999, the Guard would be called to serve in the streets of Seattle with the 4 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
Seattle Police Department following the World Trade Organization riots. “Our folks brought a sense of calm to the storm,” said Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Bob Sweeney, former Command Sgt. Maj. for the state. “The Guard is here to protect our citizens and our state.” The Guard didn’t get a chance to rest for long, as they staged Guardsmen on Dec. 31, 1999 ready to help communities nervous about Y2K. “Our Guardsmen had water and food ready to help, and like so many didn’t know what to expect,” said Sweeney. “Then when nothing happened, we sent them home to enjoy the New Year.” In 2001, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, with an epicenter just east of Olympia, shook the Puget Sound, causing nearly $4 billion in damage and breaking infrastructure up and down the I-5 corridor. The Guard supported Gov. Gary Locke with flight missions and assisted at the State Emergency Operations Center. This would start the conversations about the potential of a large-scale earthquake and potential resources needed. In 2016, the Washington Military Department would learn a lot of lessons following “Cascadia Rising,” a full-scale exercise testing the Cascadia plan. The Guard will
participate in a future Cascadia exercise in 2022 to increase lessons learned and update its plan. Following the actions of Sept. 11, 2001 and the attack on America, Guardsmen not only deployed to support the federal mission, they were also activated to support security missions at airports across Washington. Guardsmen assisted with ensuring that all passengers were safe and comfortable to travel again. The Guard would support what was called Operation Noble Eagle at airports until May, 2002. As Guardsmen continued to deploy and return from missions overseas in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Guardsmen at home continued to help Washington state during times of emergencies. In 2005, as more than 3,000 members of the 81st Brigade Combat Team returned home from Iraq, many were called up to support missions in New Orleans following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Guardsmen would provide presence patrols, assist with air operations and provide aid in any way they were needed. Opposite page: Chief Warrant Officer Mike Cairns talks with Sue Nystrom after rescuing her following the Mt. St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980. (Photo Archives) Above: Washington National Guard truck driving through flood waters in Lewis County in 2007. (Photo Archive) Below: Washington National Guard helicopter lands at State Capitol to pick up Gov. Gary Locke to survey damage after Nisqually Earthquake in Feb 2001. (Photo Archive)
Guardsmen continued to support state activations in 2007 and 2008 with flooding in Western Washington, while also supporting snow storms in Eastern Washington in January 2009. That year also saw the second deployment of the 81st Brigade Combat Team to Iraq. In 2010, the Washington National Guard would establish the Homeland Response Force, a group of soldiers and airmen that would assist during large scale state emergencies with command and control, security, decontamination and transportation
elements. The HRF would receive its certification in 2011 and has been a model for others states in the country. After a couple years of growing wildland fires, the Guard took a proactive approach in 2013 with Operation Evergreen Ember, testing the organization's ability to respond to major wildland fires.
“While no one wants to see a repeat of last summer’s devastation, we can’t control Mother Nature,” said Major General Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general in 2013. “It is the Washington National Guard’s paramount duty to protect lives and property during emergencies.” It didn’t take long for the Washington National Guard to use their newly acquired firefighting skills. In back-to-back years, 2014 and 2015, Washington experienced the worst wildland fire seasons in state history. More than 2,300 Guardsmen joined firefighters across
Washington Air National Guard members from the 141 Civil Engineer Squadron search for missing people in the debris field caused by the Oso mudslide. National (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rory Featherston)
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the state to protect cities and towns. The Guard would be called to serve again in 2016, 2017 and 2018 during smaller wildfire seasons, but still making impacts that made a difference in our state. 2014 also saw one of the deadliest disasters in Washington stateâ€™s history. On the morning of March 22, 2014 a portion of an unstable hill collapsed, sending mud and debris to the south across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, engulfing a rural neighborhood and covering an area of approximately one square mile.
election security. The Guard provided an extra layer of cyber security ensuring that all Washingtonians' votes were counted correctly. Snowstorms and flooding in 2018 and 2019 saw the Guard provide needed support to first responders in the cities of Issaquah, Carnation, North Bend and Duvall.
Now 40 years after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Washington National Guard is continuing to serve the citizens of Washington during the stateâ€™s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,500 Guardsmen have Guardsmen with the Homeland Response Force been activated since March 2020, providing and aviation teams went to work looking for support at food banks across the state, assisting survivors. During the 45-day activation, at local Community Based Test Sites, assembling Guardsmen were able to recover remains of the COVID-19 test kits, providing logistical support, 43 Washingtonians that died during this tragic delivering home care and personal protective disaster. They helped the citizens of Oso, equipment, and assisting in a voluntary mapping Darrington and Arlington with transportation, mission to help slow the spread of the virus and food, donations and logistics support, while help- reopen our economy. ing a community find strength after the tragedy. Whatever the disaster, either man-made or In 2016 the Guard began a relationship with Sec. natural, the Washington National Guard has of State Kim Wyman to provide support to always been and will continue to be there to support the citizens of our state, our neighbors, our friends and our families.
Spec. Derek Price, 176th Engineer Company, clears hot spots along the fire line of the Sheep Creek fire Aug. 5, 2018, near Northport, Wash. (Washington Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon)
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Built to Respond The Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic changed the world and the way we live. The Washington Military Department has been there during the response to ensure the citizens of Washington are safe during this multi-facet response. As the state continues its response to the worst pandemic in more than a century, large parts of the nation continue to remain fully or partially shut down out of public health concerns. Our nurses and doctors have become frontline heroes, while thousands of others remain unemployed. Our state now has its largest unemployment since the Great Depression and the health issues aren’t over yet. Employees of the Washington Military Department have been at the center of the response since the beginning, helping the state Department of Health with pandemic planning before COVID-19 was even on the national radar and helping with logistics, operations and planning support as the response became ever critical. Soldiers and Airmen of the Washington National Guard have helped with testing sites, in food banks and, more recently, in a call center where they help track where the virus spreads. “We have made tremendous progress in this fight. Physical distancing and good health habits have saved lives,” Gov. Jay Inslee said on May 22. “Now, those same things are helping reopen businesses faster. Thanks for everything you’re doing. I know it is not easy. But I also know, we got this Washington.” The state Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) was raised to a partial activation on Jan. 22, including officials from the state Department of Health and external affairs. Two days later, there was a full activation with the incident management team from the state Department of Health working out of the SEOC. Personnel was split between Health’s lab at Shoreline, its headquarters in Tumwater and the SEOC on Camp Murray. By mid-March, officials from state Department of Health, Washington Emergency Management Division and the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services developed a Unified Command structure. For a few days at the end of February and beginning of March, teams from Health, Emergency Management and other state agencies came together to help craft and strategize for some of the non-pharmaceutical interventions that would help guide the state in the months to come. “Its purpose is to help public health officials, emergency management and partners choose which mitigation strategies to implement to limit and prevent the spread of novel respiratory diseases of concern,” said Chris Utzinger, the state EOC Response Section Manager on Feb. 28. The marathon sessions started with the obvious advice: Encouraging state residents to increase their handwashing and use alcohol-based sanitizer, frequently clean and disinfect surfaces, and show proper cough and hygiene etiquette. Then, the non-pharmaceutical interventions started mentioning things that would become familiar these many months later: social distance by keeping 6 feet from each other, isolate sick people, cancel all major public and large private gatherings, order the closure of schools, childcare facilities, workplaces and public buildings. By the second week of March, restaurant doors were closed. Schools were shut down. People were told to stay home unless they were going out for an “essential” service, such as shopping for groceries. Employees at the Washington Military Department were given unprecedented access to teleworking and told to stay home if they could. 8| Washington Military Department |Spring 2020
A Washington National Guardsman decontaminates an area inside a tent at a COVID-19 community based testing site in Aberdeen, Wash., April 16, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Stewart)
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“While this emergency can be unnerving – more than anything, I ask you to stay calm,” Major General Bret D. Daugherty wrote in an email on March 19. “Together, we’re going to get through this. I can assure you of that. Combining our state and federal forces, we have a talented team working day and night to help address this situation, and I’m confident we’re making a difference. Let’s continue to lead by example and take the steps necessary to slow the spread.”
Vice President Visit On March 5, before widespread shutdowns hit our state, Vice President Mike Pence visited Camp Murray, bringing many top federal officials with him. At the time, Washington state had been the hardest hit state with at least 70 confirmed infections and 11 dead. Pence started with a tour of the state Emergency Operations Center, where he “bumped” elbows with line staff that filled the room. “As the state of Washington, and the Seattle area in particular, deals with the coronavirus, we’re going to continue to make sure that you have the full support of every agency in the federal government,” Pence said. “We know you’re the front line.” Joining him were 10 of the 11 congressional officials representing Washington state, together in the EOC for the first time in recent memory, as well as Gov. Inslee. The visit brought dozens of media outlets with the vice president, making use of several buildings on Camp Murray, exhaustive security sweeps and cooperation among all levels of government. Employees in the state EOC even had to have their computers checked by a bomb-sniffing dog. The Pierce County Readiness Center on Camp Murray hosted a meeting between Pence, federal officials and the governor, which culminated with a largescale press conference.
The Dual Status Command is stood up Brig. Gen. Bryan Grenon, Task Force Steelhead Commander and Seattle Police Department Captain, started off the COVID-19 response as the Dual Status Commander in Seattle. To assist the response, FEMA deployed an Army field hospital to CenturyLink, and Grenon was the conduit between the responding agencies, NORTHCOM, Title 10 soldiers and Title 32 soldiers, as well as federal and state emergency response agencies and leadership. Grenon said his civilian career positively impacted his time as the DSC. “I think that this is something that NORTHCOM didn't anticipate, because of my role as a Captain, I had very strong relationships not only of these police departments, but with the city government and also the Seattle Fire Department.” Grenon’s experience as the DSC was short but provided the opportunity to learn how to better engage and communicate when interacting with so many different agencies through the pandemic response.
The Guard is called to support As the economy suffered and unemployment sky-rocketed, food banks across the state got slammed with requests. At the same time that demand climbed, volunteers who were relied upon to operate local food banks were forced to stay home, many of whom fall in the at-risk categories for COVID-19. “The Washington National Guard will provide important help to our communities to ensure our critical food 10 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
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banks remain stocked and operational,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a tweet. “They’re filling an important need and I ask that you welcome them in your communities as they process, package and distribute meals.” Airmen and soldiers from the 194th Wing and 81st Brigade Combat Team jumped at the chance to help their neighbors in Chelan, Franklin, King, Pierce and Walla Walla counties right away. “These Guardsmen will provide critical support to our food banks and pantries that are low on staff and need help getting food to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Daugherty, the adjutant general. “By looking out for our neighbors and following proper health safety guidelines, we will get through this together.” As the need grew, so did the requests for Guard support at food banks across the state. By the end of April, more than 700 Guard members were supporting operations at 43 food banks and distribution centers across Washington. Food Lifeline set up a distribution center in south downtown Seattle with the support of more than 200 guardsmen helping them process, pack and distribute food and goods to more than 300 food banks across Washington state. Sgt. Kyle Sprague, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, volunteered for the opportunity to serve with Food Lifeline in Seattle after seeing how the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order was impacting the area. “When driving through Seattle, you see a lot of boarded up businesses,” said Sprague. “That's a lot of lost wages. When I saw it, I realized that the community needs help and what better way to, to get out and help an organization like Food Lifeline.” Kate Wright, the executive director at the Edgewood food bank said that the support was critical because many of the staff were listed as high-risk if they caught the virus. “I am not supposed to be here,” said Wright. “I could be high risk, so having the Guard here is so helpful. We are helping to feed more than 400 families a week now, almost double what we were at before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Testing Sites As the need for COVID-19 testing across the state grew, the Washington National Guard was asked to support. Dressed in full personal protective equipment, Guardsmen worked together with doctors and nurses at community-based testing sites across the state to expand testing capabilities. “There are only so many resources here in the area so every person counts in this operation, from the medics who test, to the people who do traffic enforcement, to those in administration,” Senior Airman Ryley Glick said at a Grays Harbor site. “We’re lending extra hands to those who need it.”
Wearing Masks is the new norm At the beginning of April, the Centers for Disease Control recommended the use of face masks when social distancing couldn’t be achieved. That led one Washington National Guard mother to recruit some help to carry out an important mission of providing masks to soldiers and airmen. “It was something for my mom and her friends to do during this time, it is their way to support the COVID-19 response,” said Lt. Col. Josh Daily, Future Operations Officer with the Washington Army National Guard. Daily’s mom, Roberta Yoshimura, and her friends Ruth Dingfield and Jeanne Gallagher dug out their sewing needles and fabric to create masks so Guardsmen supporting local foodbanks would be protected. 12 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
Staff Sgt. Amber Barker, 194th Wing, Washington Air National Guard stakes pallets of bread at the Edgewood Community Food Bank in Edgewood, Wash. on April 2, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
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“So many amazing people have selflessly provided protective masks for our soldiers and airmen,” said Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, Commanding General of the Washington Army National Guard. “It is during times like this that great people rise up to answer the call for our country.” Kathryn Salo, along with Wendy and Elizabeth Phippen stitched together and donated hundreds of masks for Guardsmen in early April, which were passed out to soldiers on Camp Murray. And Staff Sgt. Rachel Yandon, a radio frequency transmission systems apprentice working in the 225th Support Squadron’s Communications Focal Point, volunteered to hand-sew 150 cloth protective masks and sent them to a hospital in Alabama.
Chaplains provide guidance at tough time Knowing that Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen, like everyone else, have a wide variety of emotions during a disaster – fear, anger, stress – Col. Don Brewer, the State Chaplain for the Washington National Guard asked all chaplains to reach out and conduct health and wellness checks during this COVID-19 response. One of those chaplains called to action was Capt. Denise Denniston, chaplain for the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion. “I have been calling our soldiers,” Denniston said. “My main focus is to check in on them as well as connect them directly with any resources that they may need at this time. I know Chap. Brewer’s intent was to make sure all our soldiers were taken care of at this time.” The resources that Denniston often suggests are through the Joint Service Support office, which has staff members that can help Guardsmen with health, finances or any mental/physical struggle. One type of resource came through the National Guard Association of Washington, which started providing Guardsmen in need with $10,000 in grocery store gift cards. “Our association is working with Joint Service Support to ensure all of our Washington Guardsmen are taken care of during this time,” said Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Washington. “It is just part of taking care of our airmen and soldiers.” 14 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
Washington Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Cameron Coil, I-Company, 181st Brigade Support Battalion logs onto a network device before making a COVID-19 mapping call at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) offices Tumwater, Wash., on May 15, 2020. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel)
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Drilling during COVID For Washington National Guardsmen, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how they conduct their monthly inactive duty training. Call it “Tele-Drilling.” While some units decided to move their drill days to another month, for the soldiers of the 56th Theater Information Operations Group, Col. Gerald Dezsofi and his command teams made a decision to drill from home during the first weekend of April and May. “This was a great chance for us to not only catch up on administrative requirements, but we are also testing our soldiers to work, think, plan and act in a unfamiliar environment,” said Dezsofi. “It forced them to adapt to a new environment with unexpected challenges.” Another unit that teleworked for their drill weekend was the 141st Air Refueling Wing located at Fairchild Air Force Base. In their monthly Jet Gazette newsletter, Col. Larry Gardner describes the challenges and how he wanted his leaders to overcome them. “These challenges must be met with fundamental change on how we operate and a resolute discipline and timely led-turn to meet the next set of challenges not yet encountered,” said Gardner. “We must lead with compassion and understanding; our number one priority is our airmen and their families.”
Changes at the Youth Academy As schools across the state began to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Youth Academy had a full class of cadets residing on campus. “When we heard about the virus in January, we began reviewing our safety protocols,” said Amy Steinhilber, director of the Washington Youth Academy. “By March we began communicating regularly with the families, letting them know what we were doing to keep their kids safe.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general tour U.S. Vice President Mike Pence around the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray, Wash. on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Steven Friederich)
While the Washington Youth Academy students can isolate in one secure area, the staff and external support can’t. When Gov. Jay Inslee issued his Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation on March 15, Steinhilber and Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty made the call to close the campus and send all kids home. “When we sent Cadets home, we gave them options. They could come back for a future cycle or continue their studies online,” Spring 2020 | Washington Military Department | 17
said Steinhilber. “We had 151 kids take part in our online campus. Within a week IT Support contacted community partners and provided us O365 accounts and accessibility technology like laptops as needed so we could continue the mission to reclaim youth.” The staff believes the little time they had with the Cadets made a lasting impression. “Out of the 151 kids we started with, over 70 percent are on track to complete the cycle, with others needing a little more time to finish,” said Steinhilber. “This is all new to us but faculty and staff reacted quickly to ready the curriculum for the online collaboration with our Cadets.” Plans are now underway way to invite Cadets unable to take full advantage of the online environment back to campus with safety in mind. “We are enhancing protocols to social distance, limit exposure and continue to provide a safe place for our cadets to thrive,” said Steinhilber.
Building Test Kits When Inslee laid out his recovery plan for Washington, testing for COVID-19 was one of his pillars. Ensuring that test kits are readily available has been a team effort between professionals with the Department of Health, AmeriCorp and dozens of members of the Washington National Guard. “Working with the Department of Health and AmeriCorp has been great, our guys know how important this mission is and are excited to be here,” said Maj. Jeff Rogers, a logistician and site leader for the Washington National Guard. “This is all logistics and supply chain management, so being a logistician working this mission is right in my wheel house.” The AmeriCorp volunteers put together the sterile test kit components, then pass them to the National Guard members to put the instructions and sterile test kit bag into an outer biohazard bag. The assembled kits are then packaged by Guard members into boxes for shipping to counties. “A lot of quality control is happening to ensure that the test kits are properly created, packaged, shipped and tracked,” said Rogers. “Making sure everything is sterile is critical. When new components come in for the test kits they undergo a sterilization test to ensure the products are safe to use and will give an accurate test reading.”
COVID Mapping As the State of Washington continues to work toward slowing and preventing the spread of COVID-19, members of the Washington National Guard are supporting the state’s Department of Health with voluntary COVID-19 mapping. “We are not focused on tracking the individual, we’re actually tracking the virus,” said Washington Air National Guard Lt. Col. Christopher Panush, Task Force Kokanee Officer in Charge. “COVID-19 mapping is really what we are after; tracking where the virus might spread throughout the communities while working with the Department of Health.” 18 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
Sgt. Kevin Probst, 1041st Transportation Company, puts an instruction sheet into the COVID-19 test kit at the Department of Health Warehouse in Tumwater, Wash. on May 14, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
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The Department of Health is asking for those who test positive for COVID-19 to voluntarily provide the names and contact information of individuals who may have come in contact with them. The National Guard is assisting in the effort, as the DOH is the lead agency for this voluntary data collection. In describing the process of COVID-19 mapping, Panush emphasized all the information belongs to Department of Health. “The important aspect is that they (Guardsmen) will ask the person, the individual that has the virus, are they willing to be contacted?” he said. “If the answer is yes then their information will go into the Department of Health’s secure database and it’s assigned a case number.” Once the case number is established by the epidemiology department at DOH, the case is then distributed to the call workers, who are a combination of Department of Health, Department of Licensing and Washington National Guard personnel.
Washington National Guardsmen work to pack and distribute food at a local community food bank site at Touchet, Wash., May 13, 2020. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Washington Air National Guard Public Affairs)
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“The questions during the phone calls are very scripted,” said Panush. “The caller will ask the individuals a series of questions and try and establish where they have been in the past fourteen days. But again, the information is completely voluntary.”
State EOC Support Employees with the Logistics division at the state Emergency Operations Center have had the herculean task of trying to find personal protective equipment at a time when everyone else on the planet was looking for the exact same thing. Even in June, months later, just a fraction of the $411 million in equipment ordered has actually arrived, according to statistics provided by the state Joint Information Center. “The Logistics section has been very short staffed with emergency management personnel to execute this very complex mission during this pandemic response,” said Mark Douglas, Logistics Supervisor. “We solicited help from other state agencies and received help from DSHS, DOC and the National Guard.”
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The most in-demand items have been disposable gowns, NIOSH N95 masks and powered air purifying respirators. As of May 25, more than 100 Washington manufacturers have re-tooled their facilities to manufacture personal protective equipment to meet that demand. “We have been successful as a team in getting the limited amount off PPE to the right people at the right time, thanks to these partners and the team,” Douglas said. “It has been a very long activation since mid-January and we still have a lot of great work ahead.” Meantime, the state EOC created a business and infrastructure branch specifically devoted to helping businesses navigate the complicated nature of the pandemic. Taylor Hennessee and Brian Laughlin, who both work for the Washington Emergency Management Division, took turns leading the team and coordinating agency response from the state Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor & Industries, the state Department of Transportation, the Employment Security Department and assorted private and non-profit partners. “We had some immediate infrastructure issues – people were flushing down wipes and clogging drains, everywhere,” said Laughlin. “But that was a short-term issue. The long-term issues was how do we help businesses in need and the state with its ‘essential’ designations?” There was a lot of confusion that people would need to show passes to get into cities – and at one point a business re-entry program designed more for large scale disasters such as earthquakes was getting overwhelmed and Washington Air National Guard Senior Airman Nathan Kepple Nathan Kepple, a medic assigned to the 141st Air Refueling Wing Medical Group (left) assist Lia Frenchman with a nasal swab as her children watch as she is tested for COVID-19 at a site established by the Washington National Guard on the Quinault Indian Nation Reservation, Taholah, Wash., May 20, 2020. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Washington Air National Guard Public Affairs)
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confused with thousands of residents applying for special permission to get to their jobs. “That was really tough – trying to convince people that there weren’t going to be road blocks and you didn’t need a special pass,” Laughlin said. Another issue was coming up with a way to sort through the thousands of questions coming in on who was an essential business, what kind of social distancing measures were required for businesses and more. First, the questions showed up in email boxes – lots of email boxes until a smart sheet database was established for questions and concerns. Then, a team made up of many state agencies came together and started going through the questions to help business owners out. “This is something our state has never done before – but it’s something we can take lessons out of in case we have an earthquake of other disaster,” Hennessee said. “We had some folks at the state talking to each other who had never talked to each other before.” Hennessee said there were a lot of issues involving the supply chain and rumor busting, as well. And Washington state was one of the first to give guidance to grocery stores on ways they could get ready for the pandemic, weeks before federal officials started issuing guidance. “Our state was leading in a lot of efforts,” she said. One permanent change created during the pandemic is expanding the access of rural wi-fi spots. With school closures and business closures across the state, the need for reliable wi-fi has been greater than ever.
Employees at the State Emergency Operations Center monitor the situation from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Photo)
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Members of Washington Military Department’s IT Division, which staff the Emergency Support Function 2 – Communications pod in the state EOC, worked diligently with partners at the Washington State Broadband Office and Northwest Open Access Network to increase wi-fi access to rural areas in particular. There are now drive-up wi-fi hot spots all over the state, which are safe and offer high speed access. Rich Hall has been spearheading efforts for the Washington Military Department. For years, the agency has been building relationships with the private sector as part of the internal Washington Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group. Those connections led to the non-profit Information Technology Disaster Resource Center out of Texas, which has committed to donating $7 million worth of wi-fi and network infrastructure across rural areas in Washington state. This is infrastructure that will remain in place – even after the pandemic has ended. “I helped design the network,” Hall said. “I began to identify sites, both using existing coverage maps and data from where we know people have free and reduced lunches in schools in socioeconomic disadvantaged areas. At this point, we have more than 400 sites lit up and plans for another 600 when it’s all done.” In addition, Hall worked with private companies Verizon and T-Mobile and collectively had the companies donate more than 7,000 phones for folks in need, identified by the state Health Care Authority. The phones were free with subscription accounts paid for by the Health Care Authority “I have a whole pile of stories where people saw immediate benefit from that,” Hall said. “I had a little boy who hadn’t been able to talk to his mom because she was in the hospital for weeks and his caregiver put a phone in his hand and he was able to not just talk to her, but FaceTime with her and it was really emotional.” In addition, the GIS program within the Office of the Chief Information Officer along with the Washington Military Department, crafted specialized maps that enabled health officials and the Governor’s Office to track COVID-19 cases in real time. The work was in conjunction with ESRI, a private company specializing in GIS work. The same partnership was also able to push out a wi-fi map for Hall’s project and a third site that tracks the availability of childcare facilities.
Support to Employment Security
With businesses shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, Washington state saw a record number of unemployment claims. Organized criminals also spotted an opportunity to take advantage of the state’s unemployment benefits. Over the course of a couple of weeks, overseas thieves made off with as much as $600 million in fraudulent unemployment claims. As a result, the state’s Employment Security Division, which manages Washington’s unemployment benefits, froze thousands of accounts. This caused a financial hardship for those who truly needed the weekly benefit after being laid off from their fulltime jobs. While ESD continues to recoup the stolen funds, it asked the Washington National Guard to help with its efforts to eliminate the backlog of claims and ultimately, ensure those who need and qualify for unemployment benefits receive them. The Guard has been asked to review the identification documents in ESD’s electronic benefits system. Guard personnel will review the claims of those deemed as low risk of fraud and will help the requestor get their benefits. 24 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
Tech. Sgt. Sheryl Lomonaco, Headquarters, Washington Air National Guard, opens boxes at the Seattle SoDo food distribution center on May 4, 2020. (National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, Washington Air National Guard Public Affairs)
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Story By Lt. Col. Aly Teeter-Baker
Air Guardsman helps NYC Medical Examiner at COVID-19 epicenter
Lt. Col. Bruce Simpson, the Headquarters Washington Air National Guard’s Director of Force Support, started his journey in the fight against COVID-19 by supporting the Grand Princess cruise ship quarantine on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., in March. By early April he was on a different COVID-19 mission: supporting the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
spent at a Manhattan overflow facility working as a night shift supervisor for intake, identification, tracking, and cold storage operations. When Simpson arrived at the overflow facility, he was surprised by how quickly it was built.
“I was amazed at how the large OCME overflow facility where I worked was built in five days,” he said. “Picture a place where many refrigerated semi trailers are parked The NYC OCME said they needed help with the overwith a large loading dock and a big tent-style work facility whelming number of COVID-19 fatalities in late March, with full HVAC, lighting, computer networks. The bulk of said Simpson. Overflow morgue facilities had been set up it was built in two days and then by five days it was fully around the city to address the increasing numbers and they operational.” needed people to help staff them. After a week working in Manhattan, Simpson transferred As a civilian, Simpson serves as a part time medicolegal to Brooklyn where he worked in a similar capacity at a investigator within the Health and Human Services Disas- dedicated overflow morgue operation using a converted ter Mortuary Operational Response Team, or DMORT. Ac- warehouse. cording to HHS, DMORTs are deployed at the request of local authorities to quickly and accurately identify victims While helping the OCME in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and support local mortuary services. Simpson also worked with military servicemembers, including New York Army National Guard mortuary af“When people die in mass fatality events, their family fairs specialists and combat engineering teams. members have a real need to have their loved ones treated Military mortuary affairs specialists are trained to work in a professional, dignified and timely manner,” Simpson with fatalities but combat engineers are not. Simpson took said. “It takes a large and diverse team to handle the many this as an opportunity to mentor the engineers through a different aspects of crisis recovery.” difficult situation. Simpson was part of the first DMORT rotation in New York and the team split up throughout the city to boroughs like Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. His first week was 26 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
“They didn’t have any experience with this type of situation so I basically prepped them with pre-incident stress talks. They did well,” he said.
Simpson noted that his military experience helps when he’s coordinating with the National Guard in his DMORT role. Frank Sebastian, Team Commander of FEMA Region 10 DMORT, agreed and said that Simpson’s military leadership experience enhances the effectiveness of DMORT when responding to a mass casualty event. “We operate under the Incident Command System protocols, a very directed chain of command. I think having that knowledge as well as being a leader in the military is a great transference of skills,” Sebastian said.
After accepting the challenge from DMORT, Simpson needed additional hands-on medical examiner training in order to apply for the position. “Because I had a lot of prior experience at the Dover Port Mortuary, I already understood the basics of autopsies and how the military takes care of its combat fatalities,” he said. “So, then that helped open the door for me to train with the King County Medical Examiner’s office every year.”
Since 2010, Simpson has teamed up with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office to learn and maintain Sebastian and Simpson have worked together on DMORT his on-scene medicolegal death investigator proficiency. since 2013 and COVID-19 was one of many crises they The main task that every coroner and medical examiner have responded to throughout their time on DMORT. For jurisdiction is responsible for is determining the manner some of these responses Simpson wore the military uniand cause of death, Simpson said. For deaths that occur form and others he wore the khaki HHS uniform. outside of medical facilities, the on-scene death investigations and subsequent autopsies provide the “For the 2014 State Route 530 Landslide near Oso, critical information needed to make these Washington, I was in a military uniform, and I worked determinations. closely with the DMORT, FSRT (Fatality Search and Recovery Team) and the Snohomish County Medical “That was a great qualifier for Bruce’s position with Examiner’s Office,” he said. “In 2017, I deployed to DMORT as a medicolegal investigator. You have to have Florida and Puerto Rico for HHS missions after some experience and training in medical legal Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and I deployed this year to investigation,” Sebastian said. San Diego to assist with an HHS DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) medical quarantine mission.” While keeping his skills sharp, Simpson has built a relationship that is also beneficial for the Washington Nation“I am simply glad that I can do my part to help take some al Guard. It’s similar to what he learned during the joint of the stress out of very challenging situations,” Simpson training sessions he hosted at Camp Murray. added. “If a major disaster happens in our region, like a large The opportunity to join the HHS DMORT came to earthquake, it’s going to be massive and overwhelming,” fruition due to Simpson’s military experience. he said. “You’re going to rely on the connections that you already have to just pick up where you left off and get After serving on active duty for eight years, Simpson going. I will be an extension of them to help military joined the Air Force Reserve at Joint Base Lewisfolks and understand what the needs are.” McChord, Wash., where he commanded a specialized Air Force services team that frequently deployed to the DoD Simpson and his senior enlisted team have also set up Aerial Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del. That training relationships with the Pierce County, Spokane is where he first gained experience working in the mass County and Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Offices. fatality response environment. This enabled his team and FSRT members in Washington and Oregon to collaborate with civil When he started in his current position with the WA ANG authorities and receive very valuable training as a military liaison to civil authorities for FEMA Region opportunities. 10, Simpson hosted joint training events with civil and military authorities, to include mass fatality exercises and He doesn’t know where he’ll go next, but Simpson is mission briefs. always on call to respond to disasters nationwide or at home. “For several years I was conducting joint training events at Camp Murray where I would bring together “Bruce has been a great asset to the team, a great asset to representatives from FSRT, King County, Pierce County, the folks we serve and the American public in a time of Portland, DMORT, Public Health Service, and disaster,” Sebastian said. Department of Health,” he said. “After we had done this for a couple years, the DMORT representative said, ‘You Photo: New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner employees, New York Army National Guardsmen and Health and Human Services Disaster Mortuary Operational know, you’re really knowledgeable, you should think Response Team members pose for a picture at the New York City Office of Chief Medabout joining DMORT. If there’s a crisis you just figure ical Examiner office in April 2020. Lt. Col. Simpson, the Headquarters Washington Air National Guard’s Director of Force Support, worked on this team as a DMORT medout which uniform you’re going to put on.’” icolegal investigator as part of the Health and Human Services COVID-19 response. (Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Bruce Simpson.)
Improving Connectivity A team from the Washington Emergency Management Division provides better wi-fi, better mapping as part of state's COVID-19 response Story by Steven Friederich
Technology improvements in the wake of the state’s COVID-19 response has helped state agencies save lives – and will make permanent changes in the way residents can access wi-fi in rural areas. Members of Washington Military Department’s IT Division, which staff the Emergency Support Function 2 in the state Emergency Operations Center, not only mapped wi-fi networks across the state but found the critical funding for it, helping residents gain better access to tele-health services and ensure school kids could keep getting lessons from their teachers. Meantime, the GIS program within the Office of the Chief Information Officer along with the Washington Military Department, was able to push out a wi-fi map so residents could find drive-up wi-fi spots. They were also able to track the availability of childcare facilities and crafted specialized maps that enabled health officials and the Governor’s Office to track COVID-19 cases in real time. The work was in conjunction with ESRI, a private company specializing in GIS work. Rick Geittmann, a Web & GIS Technician for the Military Department, said there was an early effort back in March, working with the Secret Service, doing situational spatial mapping when Vice President Mike Pence visited the state Emergency Operations Center. Geittmann said his team’s efforts have also been working on maps related to compliance with the governor’s stay home, stay healthy orders as well as ways to track how much personal protective equipment is being ordered and ways to display the statewide COVID-19 cases each day. In addition, displays were created to track where kids could get meals to eat, which communities and schools were closed, how donations were being managed, as well as testing sites and population mobility tracking. He said he worked hand-in-hand with the state EOC’s intelligence division to ensure the governor had the most upto-date information possible before doing his regular press briefings and making big decisions, such as continuing the stay home, stay healthy orders. “I’m really proud of what our team has accomplished and how we’ve been able to help not just the Governor’s Office, but the entire state,” said Lisa Zolman, the deputy chief information officer for the Washington Military Department. The tight collaboration between the Military Department, ESRI and the state Office of the Chief Information Officer has resulted in three widely used web pages that track key data by location. The first gathers and tracks COVID-19 cases as identified by the Washington Department of Health and displays it by county. The second, developed in association with the Washington Department of Commerce, gathers and displays Wi-Fi “hot spot” information across the state. It is used to help support telemedicine, telework and distance learning in schools. A third site tracks the availability of childcare facilities, a useful tool for workers who are classified as “essential” during the pandemic and need to find day care options. 28| Washington Military Department | Spring 2020
Taylor Hennessee, the Business and Infrastructure Branch Director for the state Emergency Operations Center, said the displays and the critical help from the IT Division has had a lasting impact. Rich Hall, the Emergency Telecommunications Lead Engineer at the state Emergency Operations Center, said he worked with partners at the Washington State Broadband Office and Northwest Open Access Network to increase wifi access to rural areas in particular. There are now drive-up wi-fi hot spots all over the state, which are safe and offer high speed access. Hall and the rest of the Military Department’s IT Division has been building relationships with the private sector as part of the internal Washington Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group, known across the state as WECCWG. Those connections led to the non-profit Information Technology Disaster Resource Center out of Texas., which has committed to donating $7 million worth of wi-fi and network infrastructure across rural areas in Washington state. This is infrastructure that will remain in place – even after the pandemic has ended. “I helped design the network,” Hall said. “I began to identify sites, both using existing coverage maps and data from where we know people have free and reduced lunches in schools in socioeconomic disadvantaged areas. At this point, we have more than 400 sites lit up and plans for another 600 when it’s all done.” These sites include schools, Public Utility District offices, libraries, community centers – and each and every Washington State University extension office, at least one in every county. “Some of these places already offered wi-fi, but didn’t have the infrastructure to put a whole lot of data out there or they had sub-standard access points that may only support five to 10 people at a time,” Hall said. “We made a whole lot of upgrades. The minimum requirement is to cover a 2,000-square-foot radius around the distribution site so anyone can pull up or walk up and do education or telehealth services.” The wi-fi is also now more secure and has the ability to kill rogue signals that would otherwise hijack someone’s computer and blocks malicious access points. Washington State University is handling the wi-fi at its extension branches while the Northwest Open Access Network is handling most of the other points. Hall said he is also reaching out to tribal partners to help public safety communications potentially “ride this network” on tribal land. “Before this pandemic, we knew there were dead zones on some tribal land,” Hall said. “We have an opportunity here to help serve these rural communities that may stand the test of time and give people open wi-fi access they have been lacking,” Hall said. “This would never have been possible without the investment of the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center.” Founded in 2008, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center deploys volunteer tech teams and resources to impacted communities after catastrophic events to provide emergency lifelines to responders and survivors. The organization is a nationwide, volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) with more than 1,500 technical professionals throughout the US and its territories. “This has been an amazing partnership,” said Hennessee. “It’s a huge win for our economic infrastructure and our response.” In addition, Hall worked with private companies Verizon and T-Mobile and collectively had the companies donate more than 7,000 phones for folks in need, identified by the state Health Care Authority. The phones were free with subscription accounts paid for by the Federal Activation. “I have a whole pile of stories where people saw immediate benefit from that,” Hall said. “I had a little boy who hadn’t been able to talk to his mom because she was in the hospital for weeks and his caregiver put a phone in his hand and he was able to not just talk to her, but FaceTime with her and it was really emotional. We’ve had homeless and people on public services able to find housing, get medication and services. The tangible good that has come out of this has been amazing for our citizens at large and I have been very proud of what we have accomplished here in the EOC. I’m in awe of what we’ve been able to accomplish.” Hall said he is currently searching for companies to donate tablets, as well, but that’s been harder to get. Spring 2020 | Washington Military Department | 29
Official Thank You Washington Congressional Delegation Members Visit Guardsmen Supporting Food Banks During COVID-19 Response Story By Lt. Col. Aly Teeter-Baker
Wth more than 1,200 Guardsmen supporting the COVID-19 response in Washington, five U.S. Representatives from the state’s Congressional Delegation visited food bank support operations throughout state to learn more about the mission. Since starting the food bank support missions in early April, Washington Guardsmen have packed more than 15 million pounds of food, or nearly one million meals, at 68 food bank sites across the state. The congressional visits began with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, from the 5th Congressional District, who toured the Second Harvest Food Bank in Spokane April 16. She spoke with the Washington State Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty and other Washington National Guard leaders and guardsmen at the food bank. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse from the 4th Congressional District was next with a visit to Second Harvest Tri-
Cities in Pasco, April 29. “I think it’s giving our local food banks the necessary manpower that they need with the doubling of demand,” Newhouse said about the Washington National Guard. “Also to make sure the dots are connected between the food supply, and getting them into food banks where we need them.” U.S. Rep Adam Smith from the 9th Congressional District saw Army Guardsmen in action at the Northwest Harvest food distribution center in Kent, May 1. “The National Guard joined countless workers and volunteers at food banks who have dedicated themselves to serving the community,” he said. “It was an honor to see these frontline workers at Northwest Harvest and I commend them for their commitment to helping others.” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen from Washington’s 2nd Congressional District helped Washington Army and Air National Guardsmen fill food boxes at the Food Lifeline Covid Response Center warehouse in Seattle, May 4. Guardsmen there were building 12,000 food boxes a day for Washingtonians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. “According to Food Lifeline, the need for food in Washington state has nearly doubled since the COVID-19 outbreak began while food donations have dropped by 70 percent” Larsen said. “Thank you to Food Lifeline, the Washington National Guard and Washington’s food banks for all you are doing to help feed hungry Washingtonians during this difficult time.” The visits rounded out with U.S. Rep. Denny Heck from the 10th Congressional District visiting the Lakewood Nourish warehouse May 8. He noted that the facility distributes food to more than 20 food banks throughout the region. “I’m so appreciative of the work they are doing to ensure families in the South Sound do not go hungry during the pandemic,” Heck said. Left: Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers speaks with Washington State Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty outside of Second Harvest Food Bank April 16, 2020 in Spokane, Washington. (U.S. National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Brown)
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Right: U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen from Washington’s 2nd Congressional District assists Washington Army and Air National Guardsmen fill a food box at the Food Lifeline Covid Response Center warehouse in Seattle, May 4. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Alyson Teeter)
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keeping the peace guard called to support local authorities during civil unrest
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Story By Joseph Siemandel
As the response to COVID-19 became more manageable, another crisis developed following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, MN. Calling for the end to police brutality and racism, thousands of peaceful protestors filled the streets across the nation. When the sun went down, however – messages of hope and change devolved into chaos and destruction. On Saturday, May 30, 75 Washington National Guardsmen were activated to support the Seattle Police Department when peaceful protests turned violent and organized criminals began looting downtown retailers and torching police vehicles. The following day, the cities of Bellevue and Spokane requested Guard assistance and Gov. Jay Inslee authorized the full use of the Washington National Guard. “So as this developed early in the week, it went from a position of sending out airmen and soldiers already trained, to, ‘we’re going to need a lot more’ than these troops,” said Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, commander of the Washington Air National Guard. “All of this was developing daily, and then shifting hourly as the mission just kept getting more and more complex.” On June 3, Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, the commanding general, called for a full activation of the Washington Army National Guard to ensure enough soldiers were available to support the pending unrest across the state. Those soldiers not already on orders to support the COVID-19 response or civil disturbances were to attend Military Assistance for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS) training. “We decided to activate the entire Washington Army National Guard, probably the first time since the eruption of Mt. St. Helens,” said Dent. “We had the goal of training up to 1,000 Guardsmen on MACDIS and due to the unprecedented nature of the environment we are in it was the only way we could accomplish this goal.” As Army Guardsmen across the state were activated, more than 300 Airmen from various Air Force career fields were trained to be part of the total force. “This agency has spent years working at becoming more joint,” said Welsh, explaining how the Army and Air National Guard have worked to become more integrated on critical missions. “We had done some of this with the COVID-19 response, but this civic disorder developed so quickly.” By June 5th, more than 1,100 Guardsmen were put on State Active Duty to support local law enforcement agencies. Guardsmen were stationed throughout King, Pierce and Spokane counties as well as on Camp Murray in case more were needed. While most of the events were relatively peaceful, Guardsmen reported having rocks and other objects thrown at them. “We successfully trained more than 1,500 Guardsmen between the Army and the Air and our Guardsmen maintained professionalism and their military bearing in a tough situation,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general.
Opposite Page: Airmen with 194th Wing, Washington Air National Guard, protect thier loal community in downtown Seattle, in support of Operation Seattle Peace, June 6, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt.Alec Dionne) Guardsmen supporting Seattle Police Department caught in the smoke from a flash bang during riots on June 7, 2020. (Photo by Sgt. David Carnahan)
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Sgt. Maj. Travis Wise was one of the Guardsmen on the lines in Seattle. He was responsible for ensuring soldiers and airmen were taken care of while reminding them of their important role in protecting infrastructure. “Our soldiers and airmen were prepared for whatever would come, be it peaceful or violent,” said Wise. “We reminded them that these people are our neighbors, family and friends. We are here serving so they can freely protest, we were doing the right thing.” Wise gave a lot of credit to the leaders on the line for reminding soldiers and airmen each day about the importance of their role. He also said the chaplains played a pivotal role in defusing some potentially bad situations. “We had one chaplain that not only walked the line checking on our folks, he also would stop and have conversations with the protesters in the crowd, making sure they were ok, providing any assistance as needed and giving them a chance to talk and ask questions about our role,” Wise said. On June 10th Guardsmen began to demobilize off the mission, but the importance of being prepared for future civil unrest missions is not lost on the leadership. “It had been 20 years since we last were called to support a civil unrest mission. Let’s hope it is at least another 20 years before this happens again, but we are ready when and if needed,” said Daugherty.
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Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment secure a police precinct in downtown Seattle Wash., June 3, 2020. (photo by Sgt. Alec Dionne)
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PREPARING FOR WHAT'S NEXT Guardsmen
train for wildfire season amid
As one disaster peaks, another waits on the horizon.
While 1,500 Guardsmen help with the COVID-19 response, another 1,100 were activated to support local law enforcement responding to civil disturbances in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma and Spokane. This week, another 250 Guardsmen from across the state started training for the next potential natural disaster to affect Washingtonians, the annual wildfire season. “This is an interesting moment in time,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Every year we work tirelessly to get our teams ready. Our local, state and federal firefighters ready, so they can be safe as they tackle our fire season. Our number one priority is always for our firefighters and our communities to be safe from fires.” “We are already seeing that it might be a significant fire season,” Franz added. “We have had over 450 wildfires this year. If you look at the 10-year average we have only had 252 at this point in time. We are preparing for a challenging and difficult season.” Since Exercise Evergreen Ember in 2013, the Washington National Guard has been actively engaged with the Department of Natural Resources in the yearly fight against wildfires. After two historic wildfire seasons in 2014 and 2015, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general, identified the heightened need to solidify the Guard’s role for fire season.
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“Our direction is to have 10 teams ready to go,” said Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, the commanding general, Washington Army National Guard. “We have already started conducting training with our Guardsmen over the last couple months. They will be ready.” The COVID-19 virus is providing Guardsmen training on fires a unique set of challenges. Practicing social distancing, monitoring for fevers, chills, coughs, wearing masks while training and at fire camps, while trying to stay healthy all summer long is an issue. “This is a historic moment, we have never had to deal with the issue of keeping them safe from all the challenges that wildfire has while dealing with a deadly pandemic.” One of the Guardsmen training with Washington DNR is Private 1st Class Daria Aleshina, 181st Brigade Support Battalion. “We are practicing social distancing and making sure that we are washing our hands and working together to make sure everyone is safe,” said Aleshina. “A lot of it is common sense practices, but it is just getting into a routine.” Since 2014, the Washington National Guard has activated more than 5,000 members in support of wildfire responses, including more than 1,500 in 2015 when the state experienced its worst wildfire season in history. That year, 1,541 fires across the state burned more than 1 million acres in central and eastern Washington, causing an estimated $253 million in damage.
Story By Joseph Siemandel
Opposite Page: Private 1st Class Daria Aleshina digs a fire line during wildfire training on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on June 13, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel) Current Page: A UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter carries a "Bambi" bucket filled with water on a practice run in Ellensburg, Wash. on June 10, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Sara Morris)
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CH-47 Chinook helicopters fly-over family members during Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation deployment ceremony at the Washington Army National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on May 6, 2020.(U.S. National Guard photo by Sara Morris)
CONTINUING THE MISSION
Bravo Company 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation deploys to the Middle East for the third time in 10 years While more than 1,000 Washington National Guard members support the on-going COVID-19 response, one unit is training for a different kind of fight. Deploying isn’t new for the Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation. This is the third time in less than 10 years CH-47 Chinook pilots and crew members have mobilized in support of on-going operations in the Middle East. “This unit deployed in 2011, 2015 and now in 2020,” said Maj. Chris Herring, commander, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation. “Our guys are trained and professional and ready to serve.” While much of the focus in the state has 38 | Washington Military Department| Spring 2020
been on the COVID-19 response and supporting food bank missions and community based testing sites, the National Guard continues to equip, train and deploy to the Middle East. Currently more than 400 Washington Guard members with the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, five members of the 156th Information Operations Battalion and five from the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion are deployed in support of on-going operations. “We have been here before,” said Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, the Commanding General, Washington Army National Guard. “In 1918 we had Guardsmen deploy to the European theater during World War I, while others stayed home to support the fight against the Spanish flu.
We will get through this, because we have done it before.” Families, friends and Washington Army National Guard leadership gathered together to say farewell during a deployment ceremony on May 6, 2020 at the Army Aviation Support Facility, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. “I am proud of you for being here, being in our Guard,” said Dent. “I am proud that you continue and maintain the proud tradition of those that came before you and wore this aviation patch. We will help here to help you and your families.” The unit will head to its mobilization site for follow on training before deploying to the Middle East this spring. Left: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Crosby Olsen, a Chinook pilot, shows his son a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation deployment ceremony at the Washington Army National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on May 6, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel) Below: Staff Sgt. Austin Cook, a Flight Engineer with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation, poses for a photo with his family during their deployment ceremony at the Washington Army National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on May 6, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
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“One Chain of Command” Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, Commanding General, shares his leadership behaviors and vision with the Washington Army National Guard
On January 31, 2020 Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, Commanding General and Assistant to the Adjutant General - Army laid out his leadership behaviors and six tenets for the Washington Army National Guard. “Overall mission demands on the Washington Army National Guard are at the highest level in recent history and I predict they will only continue to grow,” said Dent. “While the growth of expanding mission sets presents challenges, it also offers great opportunity.” Brig. Gen. Dent’s six tenets: Soldier first is our touchstone. This requires the belief in the individual readiness and connection to each soldier to the powerful tradition of service in the U.S. Army and our National Guard. Solider First requires a steadfast commitment to Army Values, standards and toughness. Soldier centric is the way our organization behaves. Everything we do as command teams, staff and leaders must be framed by the critical questions, What does this mean to the soldier and his or her family? Everything from planning to execution will be through the lens of the Solider. When we get this right, we will build trust. Brilliance in the Basics is our approach to training. We train tough, ethical and professionally competent soldiers. We identify and prioritize the basic tasks we choose to execute and then master them. Leader development. The CSM and I will lead the Washington Army National Guard in this endeavor. We train leadership at echelon. We develop leaders by trusting and empowering them to execute consequential missions. I want to instill authority and decision making back at all echelons down to the lowest level possible. This fosters ownership. Disciplined Initiative within intent. We enable this by communicating precisely though echelon and by building mutual trust and shared understanding of commander’s intent. This forms the foundation of mission command, which enables us to accomplish all missions and exploit emerging opportunities. Building Winning units. The CSM and I will define what winning means, our units are built with guardsmen who are Soldiers First and their units have such a powerful Army Identity, Soldiers are proud to serve here. This leadership philosophy is the foundation that all command teams in the Washington Army Guard are building from. “I wanted to bring leaders together to receive our vision and engage with us,” said Dent at a leader’s conference in February. “It takes a leader of a small team that can take and manage risks. That sounds like a solider doesn’t it?”
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“Part of Something Bigger” Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Commander of the Washington Air National Guard shares priorities and steps to success with his airmen
“The dual status nature of the National Guard ensures we train to fight our nation’s wars, and simultaneously stand prepared for domestic emergencies at the direction of the Governor,” Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, Assistant to the Adjutant General - Air. Welsh has developed three priorities to ensure the Washington National Air Guard members and units succeed. Build and Sustain Readiness. This means exceeding unit manning by having a wait list. Command and unit involvement in readiness training and reporting. Maintaining medical readiness and unit readiness above 80 percent. Having structured and meaningful training for Airmen. Never fail an Airman. Build units and teams where our Airmen are proud to serve and want to return to every month. Treat Airmen like you would a family member. On time pay, promotions, evaluations, awards and benefits. The full time force exists to support our traditional Airmen. Develop the Future. Stop treading water, are you still going to be working on the same problems in three years? A transparent force development and management. Constant evaluation of missions and facility relevance. These priorities are the jumping off point for the future of the Washington Air Guard. “Our Airmen want to be here, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be trained and mentored to grow. They want to feel like the organization has their best interests in mind always!”
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Corrina Carras, a middle school student from Olympia, receives a hands on demonstration of equipment from the 10th Civil Support Team. Carras shadowed the unit in February 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Sara Morris)
Story By Sara Morris
10th CST hosts student for middle school research project While schools are closed for the rest of the year, an eighth grader from Olympia was able to expand her knowledge with help from the 10th Civil Support Team before the shutdown. “My curiosity and my mentor suggested this to me for my eighth grade project study for forensic science, I’m just exploring it I guess,” said Corrina Carras, Nova Middle School. Carras’ mentor is a retired guard member who had served in a civil support team previously. When Carras mentioned to him that she was looking for a way to shadow someone involved with forensic science he suggested the 10th CST. “It was great to have her come and see us, and you know a lot of people don’t know what the CST is or don’t know that we even exist, so having someone young come out and check us out was great,” Sgt. 1st Class James Hanrahan, medical non-commissioned officer in charge, 10th CST. “For the CST it sets us up for a bigger presence in the community with that outreach to younger folks and letting them know that we’re around and for the ability and approachability for students and an organization like ours.” Every eighth grader at Carras’ school has to choose a project based on something they are interested in and learn more about. It should be something they 42 | Washington Military Department | Spring 2020
don’t have much experience with and want to explore. Carras chose forensic science. The CST was able to show Carras around to each section and give her an example of how they work alone and together at a scene to assist with local agencies. Her favorite section was the survey team and learning about their different equipment capabilities. “My favorite activity was the chemical testing with the strips, testing for negative and positive, because I prefer to do the hands on stuff,” said Carras. “I’d like to use Foyer Transform Infrared more, it had a laser that you point and it reflects and reads what it is and matches with a chemical identifier.” Hanrahan said that Carras very receptive to everything we were saying. “I remember 8th grade me, and would not have, I would have lost patience and been confused immediately so it was great. She kept up even if she says she did understand, she put a good front on that she was picking up everything we were talking about even really complex things.” The 10th CST hopes this will lead to more students coming in to shadow them and learn more about what they have to offer their communities.
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The Final Flight After 32 years, CW5 Noel Larson takes his final flight Photo and Story by Joseph Siemandel
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After more than 30 years in the cockpit of a Washington Army National Guard helicopter, Chief Warrant Officer Five Noel Larson finds himself in a position he isn’t used to. “I wish that I could say I had some grand scheme about getting here in this position but I can’t take credit for that at all,” said Larson.
“I wouldn’t trade anything, the good or the bad, or any of it,” said Larson. “Flying a Blackhawk comes with all that camaraderie, you get to know each other.” Besides missing the helicopter, Larson also said he would miss his colleagues at the facility more.
On January 30, 2020, Larson flew his final flight with an organization he has been a part of since 1988.
“I have been in here since ’92, and just being able to come in and walk the hanger floor and have everybody say ‘hey’ and ‘how’s it going,’” said Larson. Larson joined the Guard in 1988 and “Being able to recognize everybody, after a few years of working in the that’s the stuff that really means more Army Aviation Sustainment Facility he to me.” decided that he wanted to be a pilot and graduated from flight school in His final flight was made even more 1995. During his 32 years he logged special because he had the chance more than 8,000 hours of flight time, to fly with his brother, Chief Warrant deployed to the Middle East multiple Officer Four, Justin Larson, whom he times, was a consent at helo bases has flown with for 20 years. As the across Washington during multiple Larsons approached the flight facility wild fires seasons, supported flood they were met with cheers from fellow operations, search and recovery Guardsmen, family and friends along operations following the State Route with two fire trucks providing a 530 Landslide and deployed to water salute, a ceremonial tradition Louisiana after the destruction of that marks the retirement of a senior Hurricanes Katrina/Rita. pilot. It was a night mission on March 25, 2008, while deployed to an undisclosed location that earned Larson the Distinguished Flying Cross and recognition from his peers in the aviation community.
“There is a reason that the guard outshines active duty nine times out of ten, and that is you guys, the hard work you all do,” said Larson. “Keep it up and thank you for everything.”
Chief Warrant Officer five Noel Larson addresses the crowd in front of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter following his final flight on January 30, 2020 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Larson is retiring after 32 years of service in the Washington National Guard. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
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Tech Sgt. Ian Crocker, Information Systems Analyst with the 10th Civil Support Team briefs visitors on the capabilities of their communications truck during the AT&T FirstNet Disaster Recovery Showcase at the State Capitol in Olympia, Wash. on Jan. 22, 2020. The display showcased network and communications equipment that would be utilized during and following a disaster. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
similarly themed event located in Sacramento, California where the California National Guard did a similar event,” said Glenn. “I simply asked the question why can't we put on a similar event to benefit the citizens of Washington on our capitol campus as well. I just did not expect it to happen right away.”
Critical Communications 10th Civil Support Team
showcases disaster recovery communications equipment at Capitol
Following a disaster, the ability to communicate is critical. Emergency responders have to know the needs of a community to provide efficient, effective help.
CST’s Disaster Recovery Technology Truck.
“We as CSTs know that our mission is to provide the network connection for the responders and the public in “In the wake of a large scale the event of a large-scale disaster, communication systems disaster,” said Crocker. “This are usually a mess,” said Tech was demonstrated in Puerto Sgt. Ian Crocker, Information Rico during Hurricane Maria Systems Analyst with the 10th that devastated the territory Civil Support Team. “The CST's in 2017. Our communications communication packages platforms, scattered around provide a robust network for the island, provided the core the responders on the ground to communications infrastrucmake the critical connections to ture used by the government outside resources and entities.” and the responders to provide life-saving measures around Crocker, and other members the island.” of the Washington National Guard’s 10th CST, joined AT&T Mark Glenn, chief FirstNet at the state capitol to information officer for the demonstrate communication Washington Military capabilities. The event included Department, helped a demonstration from a hazard- coordinate the capitol campus ous materials response truck, a event. FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck, or “COLT”, a flying Cell “In early 2019, I along with on Wings, or “COW,” and the my Deputy CIO, attended a 46 | Washington Military Department | Spring 2020
During a call-up, the 10th CST’s communications assets are primarily focused on providing support between the communications team and the incident commander on the ground. With one of the most technologically advanced regions of the country, Washington is poised to benefit from a strong private sector in the event of a disaster. “The citizens of Washington ultimately are the ones who benefit the most when the Military Department partners with private sector companies who have critical resources to bring to bear in our greatest times of need - during and after a disaster occurs,” said Glenn. “The Washington Military Department will continue to seek to strengthen our partnerships and cultivate our relationships with more private sector companies who are willing to engage and share their expertise and resources here in our state.”
By Joseph Siemandel
Homeland Response Force learns about weather forecasting from NOAA When a disaster strikes, first responders want to know what weather conditions might get in the way of an effective response – whether it’s icy roads, flooded rivers or record heat. That is why when the Washington National Guard Homeland Response Force had the chance to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Western Regional Center in Seattle, they took the opportunity knowing they could learn from the experts. “I had previously met Reid Wolcott, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, at meetings and training exercises and understand that they play in important role during emergencies and that they have a great deal of capability that can be useful and helpful to us,” said Capt Luis Torres. “My thought process was to increase the awareness and knowledge of the capabilities of the 10th HRF to Reid and his co-workers at NOAA’s National Weather Service and vice versa.” NOAA's Western Regional Center houses the largest variety of NOAA programs at a single location in the United States. Its mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. “Reid shared a lot of information with us and with our intelligence staff,” said Torres. “He showed us how we could utilize the resources available better.” The NOAA staff showed HRF members where to find high-accuracy weather reports, spot forecasts tailored to different types of incidents including hazardous material incidents and wildfires and the best place to find the most accurate models. “The information provided by these resources is critical to anticipating weather’s effects on hazardous material incidents and our response operations during an incident,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Peters. The HRF’s mission is to rapidly deploy with a full suite of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense capabilities while supporting and enhancing the state and federal authorities. With the capabilities to activate more than 570 guardsmen to an incident, the HRF can provide mass decontamination, medical triage, security, search and extraction, fatality recovery, communications and command and control. Not only is the HRF building relationships with NOAA, it continues to work hand in hand with the Washington Emergency Management Division, including EMD employee Patrick Wicklund, who conducts hazmat and continuity of government planning. “Having Patrick Wicklund in our office is great, it allows face to face time that I think is taken for granted,” said Torres. “It is mutually beneficial. He shares with us, we share with him. Patrick came to NOAA with us.” The goal of the meetings is to continue building strong relationships among the emergency management professionals, response personnel from the Guard and the weather professionals. “I would like to take this one step further and set something up with our Air National Guard weather folks that are attached to the HRF and any others that are interested,” said Torres. “These meetings engage our community and develop relationships that will allow to more effectively respond to emergencies in our state.” Spring 2020| Washington Military Department | 47
Around the Department
Above: A Chinook from 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation conducts sling load training with soldiers from 16th Combat Aviation Brigade at the Helicopter Training Area, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash on Feb. 20, 2020. (U.S. National Guard by Joseph Siemandel)
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Below: Guardsmen from the 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry supported first responders from Eastside Fire and Rescue throughout King County during the snow response mission in Feb. 2020. (Courtesy Photo)
Above: LTC Kristin Derda, commander of the Washington Army National Guard Recruiting & Retention Battalion, MSgt Naz Brockman, Washington Air National Guard and Command Sgt Maj. (Ret) Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Washington testified in front of the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee on Senate Bill 5197 on Feb. 21, 2020. (Courtesy Photo)
Below: Army Chief of Staff General James McConville, was briefed by members of Task Force West, including Dual-Status Commander Brig Gen Bryan Grenon, FEMA and Task Force commander, Brig. Gen. Doug Cherry, during a tour of the Field Hospital established at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. April 1st, 2020. (U.S. National Guard photo by Sara Morris)
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Above: Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general joins Washington Sec. of State Kim Wyman to sign an agreement to have the Washington National Guard support the Secretary's office during the 2020 elections. This agreement continues the support the Guard gave her office during the 2016 elections. (Courtesy Photo)
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Below: LTC Ryan Pierce presents the saber of responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Anderson during a change of responsibility ceremony for the 741st Ordnance Battalion on March 7, 2020 at the Pierce County Readiness Center, Camp Murray, Wash. (Courtesy Photo)
Cpl. Arleen Gonzalez was recently named Division Maintainer of the Month while deployed to Jordan as part of Task Force Spartan Shield! Gonzalez, a Tacoma resident, has stepped up into a Team NCO position. She has taken charge of the Maintenance Control Equipment Records and parts section. Due to mission requirements the Forward Support Company has been tasked with, she has also taken charge of the Small Arms/Artillery section and the Computer Detection System Repairer.
Below: Bersama Warrior 2020 participants coordinate during the Mission Analysis phase of the Multinational Military Decision Making Process, March 13, 2020. Bersama Warrior is an annual joint and bilateral exercise sponsored by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and hosted by the Malaysian Armed Forces. This yearâ€™s iteration was a staff exercise that provided preparatory planning for the Bersama Warrior 2021 Command Post Exercise. (National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Alyson Teeter, Washington Air National Guard Public Affairs)
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Private 1st Class Derek Roy and his fiancée Anita pose for a photo behind the Kent Armory on May 8, 2020. The couple had to change their wedding plans after the COVID-19 virus closed their venue. Roy's unit came to the rescue to assist the couple. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
“T he Guard had our backs” G COVID-19 uardsman and fiancée change wedding plans due to
Photo and Story by Joseph Siemandel
When their original wedding venue canceled their plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Private 1st Class Derek Roy and his fiancée Anita were left scattering. After making calls and looking at options, they knew it wasn’t going to be easy. That’s when Derek, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment in Kent called Capt. Brandon Sanders, the chaplain for their unit to see if he could help out. “They came to me and asked what we could do at the Armory, so we came up with some ideas about how to make it happen,” said Sanders. “We
came up with a plan to promote Derek. social distancing among the few guests they had there and Getting married at the Armory it worked out.” wasn’t their first choice, but the couple felt lucky to have the Like so many others, Derek Guard there to support. and Anita have felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were looking around and While Anita has continued to the Guard had our back,” Derek work for Alaska Airlines, said. “This was the Guard Derek was laid off from his family helping one of our own construction job as the stay out during this crazy time; we home, stay healthy order went are glad it all worked out.” into effect. When the call for volunteers came to work at Derek also got the call he was food banks, it was a blessing. excited about. He was asked to come back to work starting in “I first joined Task Force Mid-May. Steelhead to help out, but have been at the Seattle Sodo “Hopefully, this will help bring Facility helping Food Lifeline a sense of normalcy to since that stood up,” said everything that is going on.”
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A Washington Air National Guardsmen from the Western Air Defense Sector recently won a prestigious award from National Guard Bureau as part of their national annual awards program. Administered by NGB’s executive director, the annual awards program evaluates Air National Guardsmen from across the country on duty performance, mission contributions and operational achievements. Capt. Jason Allenton, a member of the 225th Air Defense Squadron of the Western Air Defense Sector at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was named the ANG’s 2019 Outstanding Command and Control Battle Management Operations Air Battle Manager of the Year. Allenton competed against all air battle managers in the Air National Guard and was selected as the number one ABM based on his most recent achievements. Upon hearing the news of the award, Allenton said, “I might be the one recognized but it’s a team effort.” One thing that set Allenton apart was that he is the second ever Air National Guardsmen to graduate from the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. Allenton spent nine challenging weeks learning new concepts in joint integration and employment as well learning how to be an advanced execution instructor. He then brought back and integrated his new found knowledge into the Battle Control Center’s air defense role at the Western Air Defense Sector. “Captain Allenton is an essential part of our ANG team. As our only US Navy TOPGUN graduate, he provides a very unique perspective regarding Joint Operations and integration,” said Col. Brian Bergren, 225th Air Defense Squadron commander. “He is one of our best instructors and is an extremely driven officer who successfully motivates everyone around him. He has a bright future and the ANG made a wise decision selecting him as the best air battle manager in the Guard.” Allenton is scheduled to receive his award in August at a ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md. From there he will compete at the Air Force level against all air battle managers Air Force wide. “These Guardsmen have demonstrated outstanding professionalism and dedication to duty throughout the year and have made significant contributions to the Command & Control Battle Management Operations community,” said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Bergeski, ANG career field manager.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jason Allenton, 225th Air Defense Squadron air battle manager, is awarded the Western Air Defense Sector’s 2019 Company Grade Officer of the Year award during the WADS annual awards ceremony Jan. 11, 2020, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Allenton went on to win the Air National Guard’s 2019 Outstanding Command and Control Battle Management Operations Air Battle Manager of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Kimberly D. Burke
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Story by Capt. Colette Muller
Outstanding Airman Recognized
Below: Members of the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron pose onstage while accepting the award for outstanding squadron of the year during the 11th annual awards banquet Feb. 8, 2020, at the Spokane Convention Center. (U.S. National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Rose Lust)
‘Dressed to the nines,’ members of the Washington Air National Guard celebrated their fellow Airmen’s accomplishments at the 11th Annual Washington Air National Guard Awards Banquet in the Spokane Convention Center, Wash. Feb. 8, 2020. With nearly 400 people in attendance, the 141st Air Refueling Wing hosted the event to recognize outstanding WA ANG Airmen and their achievements throughout 2019. Nine individuals, one flight, and one squadron were recognized and received the coveted eagle trophies for their respective categories. The WA ANG units that competed were from the 141st
Best of the Best
Outstanding Airmen Recognized at the 11th Annual Washington Air National Guard Awards Banquet Story By Tech Sgt. Mike Brown
Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base; 194th Wing, Camp Murray; and the Western Air Defense Sector, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Col. Gent Welsh, Commander of the WA ANG, welcomed attendees by applauding the efforts and sacrifices made by the members and their families. Welsh sent out a heartfelt thanks to the event coordinators and introduced the keynote speaker, Col. Jason Lamb, Director of Intelligence, Analysis, and Innovation at Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio Randolph, Texas. “For every award winner, there’s probably another 50 airmen out there who would’ve
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deserved it just as much,” said Welsh. “For those award winners, their family members, and the folks who put them up for those awards, I truly appreciate everything you’ve done the past year.” Before announcing the award winners, Col. Larry Gardner, 141st ARW Commander, showcased an act of heroism by airmen from Team Fairchild. November 23, 2019, the crew of Expo91, piloted by Lt. Col. Mike Harris and Capt. Charles Roark from the 141st ARW and Senior Airman Kendall Bryant, a 92nd ARW boom operator answered the call to help a fellow aviator in distress. The crew was an integral part of the successful rescue of a lost visual flight rules aircraft N6122B, a pilot only rated to fly in good
visual conditions. “Their efforts were nothing short of heroic for saving a man’s life,” said Gardner. “Bringing the lost and severely iced aircraft to safety, saving the life of the pilot who unbeknownst to him while in icing and instrument conditions -- had almost impacted mountainous terrain on multiple occasions and were able to get him out safely.” Gardner recognized the crew with an Air Force Commendation medal for their heroism, and appreciation letters and coins from the Seattle Air Route Air Traffic Control and Federal Aviation Administration. After dinner, the highlight of the evening came when Welsh presented the nominees, who
walked through a sword cordon manned by Chief Master Sergeants. Each nominee was received by cheers and unit chants, while presented to the crowd on stage, and given a medallion and certificate. After the excitement settled, the keynote speaker encouraged Airmen to keep building upon their achievements by encompassing key pieces of successful leadership. “You can’t lead people unless you know them, you just can’t. How can you be effective, how can you build a relationship with someone you don’t know? You can’t,” said Lamb. “You have to know yourself. It’s ludicrous that a man should lead others who cannot lead himself.”
The speech went on to convey that a vital part of leadership is self-awareness and self-reflection. Lamb imparted three key pieces to successful leadership, “Learn from reflecting on your experiences; seek outside sources of information, more objective sources hopefully; find a coach or mentor that can be a trusted accountability partner.” In closing, Lamb said, “To be the leader that your people need, begin with understanding who you are. Seek that next mountain, never be satisfied with who you are and always try to be better. Encourage those around you to be better versions of themselves. That is my hope for you, thank for your service to the State and Nation, I am truly grateful.”
2020 Washington Air National Guard Award Winners Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Tyler Shoemaker, Tracking Instructor, 225th Air Defense Squadron
Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Matthew Ivy, Intelligence Analyst, 111th Air Support Operations Squadron Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Ponz Daniel Aboy, Chief of Weapons, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron First Sergeant of the Year: Master Sgt. Jennifer Meier, 141st Maintenance Squadron Honor Guard Member of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Shane Tuck, First Sergeant, 141st Mission Support Group Civilian of the Year: Ms. Marcia Richard, Director of Psychological Health, 141st Air Refueling Wing Recruiting and Retention Manager of the Year: Master Sgt. Jeremy Montgomery, Washington Air National Guard Production Recruiter and Retainer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Cassie Kennedy, Washington Air National Guard Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. James Hughes, Mission Systems Flight Commander, 225th Support Squadron Outstanding Flight of the Year: 141st Communications Flight, 141st Air Refueling Wing Outstanding Squadron of the Year: 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, 194th Wing Spirit Award: 141st Air Refueling Wing
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341st Military Intelligence Takes Top Honors Again at Language Conference
ةغللا رمتؤم يف ىرخأ ةرم فرشلا ةبترم ردصتت
For the second year in a row, the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion took honors as the top Command Language Program (CLP) among the five battalions in the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade at the annual Military Intelligence Conference at Draper, Utah.
“We are beyond proud of this honor, the state command language program manager has invested many hours in developing quality training and seeking out opportunities for our language professionals,” said Lt. Col. Teresa Wenner, commander of the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, Linguist. “To receive this award two years in a row is just a reflection of our battalion and state’s hard work developing a quality program that will have long term success.” The 341st command language program, managed at the Information Operations Readiness Center, is designed to develop and execute unit language training plans, help support the operational and contingency objectives for linguists and build proficiency among Guardsmen in the counter intelligence, human intelligence and signal intelligence fields. That was not thing only award the 341st took home during the conference. Sgt Robert O’Donnell, a crypto-linguist with Delta Company, was selected as the language professional of the year by the brigade. Proficient in three languages, O’Donnell was selected out of 1,050 linguists. O’Donnell, currently attached and deployed to Jordan with 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment; traveled back from Jordan to receive the award from Col. Shahram Takmili, commander of the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, Utah National Guard. “We knew that Sgt. O’Donnell was hands down the winner this year,” said Wenner. “He not only won for our Brigade but his packet will move forward to compete for Army National Guard Language professional of the year.” O’Donnell, a linguist trained in Arabic, Farsi and Dari; volunteered to deploy last year and has been the primary linguist for the Squadron Commander. He has participated in key leader engagements with the Jordanian counterparts up to the General Officer level while assisting with the Jordanian Armed Forces language proficiency tests, translating documents used for instruction in the Jordanian Operational Engagement Program (JOEP), and serving as a cultural advisor between the line units and their Jordanian counterparts. In recognition of his accomplishments and hard work, O’Donnell was also asked by the Defense Language Institution Command Sgt. Maj to travel to Monterey, Cali. And speak with students at the school upon his return from deployment. - Story By Joseph Siemandel
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Guardsman’s Redmond based employer recognized with Patriot Award Being in the Guard means finding that critical balance between serving as a citizen-soldier and holding down a full-time job, especially when Guardsmen get called to service. Lt. Col. Joshua Barrow, commander of the 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion, wanted to find a way to honor his Redmond employer, DriveShop. “When I got off active duty, I didn’t know what to expect, but I wanted to continue serving while settling down and starting our family,” said Barrow. “I have found that balance in the Washington National Guard and with DriveShop.” Barrow reached out to the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a U.S. Defense Department program that promotes cooperation and understanding between civilian employers and their National Guard and Reserve employees. Barrow is the chief operating officer of the company and noted that he wanted to give special recognition to his company’s team efforts for covering for him when he gets called away to service. DriveShop is a marketing and professional services company serving original equipment manufacturers and their agency partners. They produce media and marketing programs and events to showcase the latest makes and models in the auto industry. During a ceremony at the corporate offices, Barrow honored Marty and Mary Jo Mehl, the founders of DriveShop, with the ESGR Patriot award. The first in ESGR’s series of awards is the Patriot Award. The award reflects the efforts made to support citizen-warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence if needed. “I have to say thank you so much to Marty and Mary Jo for their trust, faith and friendship,” said Barrow. “They also
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Photo and Story by Joseph Siemandel
were at my change of command and this meant a great deal to me and my family, and really your support has been phenomenal.” The staff at DriveShop was present to observe the presentation of the award and learn about the National Guard and Reserves. “When we were considering Josh for an executive position as COO at DriveShop, we had some initial concerns over his National Guard and Reserve training demands,” said Mary Jo. “But we also believed that if he could lead within those ranks, he could bring great skill in helping to lead our organization. Any hesitation we had with Josh’s training schedule vanished quickly.” The Mehl family credit Barrow’s skills as a decisive leader who managed them through a critical reorganization, including rebuilding teams, upgrading technology and streamlining operations. “Josh is unwavering in the company’s strategic mission and is highly accountable and a committed leader,” said Marty. “There is no doubt that our company is the beneficiary of the skills and values Josh develops in the National Guard and Reserve.” Because of Barrow’s work at DriveShop, the company now includes recruitment of active and retired National Guard and Reservists in their talent acquisition strategy. “As company owners, we also feel it’s the least we can do to support our service members,” said Marty. “We are committed to doing our share in part by supporting members of the military who make personal sacrifices to protect our country here and around the world every day.”
Employees at DriveShop pose for a group photo with Lt. Col. Josh Barrow, Mary Jo and Marty Mehl following a presentation of the Patriot Award on Feb. 6, 2020 at the DriveShop Corporate office in Redmond, Wash. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
Soldier | Officer | Cider Maker Brennan Sandstrom finds passion in Cider House
A new South Tacoma cider house was a passion project for a Washington National Guardsman, only made possible because his other dreams already came true. Private 1st Class Brennan Sandstrom had always wanted to be in the military like his brother or law enforcement like his grandfather. After accomplishing those goals, Sandstrom wanted another challenge. He found it in Tin Hat Cider, named after the hat worn by legendary Johnny Appleseed. “I always wanted to join the military. My brother is in the Army and I have been interested in law enforcement and being in the Guard allowed me to do both,” said Sandstrom. “Now with Tin Hat, it has allowed me to do another.” Tin Hat Cider gives Sandstrom a chance to test his skills as a cider maker. “I don’t really like beer, so I turned to ciders,” he said. “After finding a few I liked I started looking into it and thought I can make my own. We decided after a few batches to see if we could and now we have a cidery.” Sandstrom is a Military Policeman currently attached to the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regimen. In addition to being owner/operator of Tin Hat Cider, he’s also a corrections officer in Gig Harbor. One of the hardest things he said about the business is selecting the right materials and making everything taste right. He has gone through trial and error when it comes to his selection of the right apples and finding good combinations. “It is our business and we want to put the best product forward, so finding that best match in apples is important in making a good product,” said Sandstrom. “We are excited to keep going forward and growing the business.” His business also has given South Tacoma a local cider house, something it didn’t have prior. “The closest place was in downtown, and eventually I would like to have a commercial space outside of the garage,” Sandstrom said. “Opening weekend was Super Bowl weekend and we tripled our expected attendance, all in our garage, which was really impressive.” - Story By Joseph Siemandel
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Washington Military Department History: Major League Airmen
When Geoff Zahn was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968, he knew he wanted to play baseball professionally but felt the need to serve his country as well. Like many ball players before him, military service during war time was common. Not sure what the future would hold due to the ongoing-conflict in Vietnam, Zahn decided to join the Army National Guard so he could serve on his terms. “I originally signed up to be an engineer and attended my basic training at Fort Leonard Wood,” said Zahn. “I was coming up through the Dodgers organization and in 1970 I was assigned to the Spokane Indians and transferred to the Air National Guard to continue my service.” Zahn, now 74, played professional baseball 60 | Washington Military Department | Spring 2020
from 1968 to 1985 as part of four major league organizations, including 13 years in the major leagues with the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins and California Angels. During that time he also served as a part of the Michigan and Washington National Guard, including a stint with the 141st Fighter Group in Spokane. “I really enjoyed my time in Spokane,” said Zahn. “I served part-time during the season and then worked full-time for the unit in the winter.” The 1970 season was a special one for Zahn and the Spokane Indians. Managed by baseball hall of famer Tommy Lasorda, the star studded roster had 19 future major leaguers including All-Stars Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Doyle Alexander, Davey Lopes, Charlie Hough and future Texas Rangers and New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine. The team would go
on to win the Pacific Coast League Championship and be named the “Best Minor League Team the second half of the 20th century.” “It was so busy during the season but I appreciated the flexibility of the National Guard,” said Zahn. “If I missed a weekend [drill] I was able to make it up with the unit later in the quarter.” After being assigned to Albuquerque during the 1971 season, Zahn continued to serve in the 141st. During spring training in 1973 Zahn was promoted to the Major Leagues and decided to transfer back to the Michigan National Guard to finish his military service.
“I only served six years, but I really enjoyed my time with the National Guard,” said Zahn. “I appreciated my time getting to know the guys that were there year-round, glad I got the time with them, it was such a valuable experience.”
From The Field
Reserve unit joins 1-303rd Cavalry Squadron in Jordan, brings brothers-in-law together on deployment
By Capt. Ernest Wang, Area Support Group - Jordan
The U.S. Army Reserve’s 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade assumed authority of Area Support Group-Jordan (ASG-J) in a transfer of authority ceremony on March 15th. Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the 301st MEB mobilized to the Kingdom of Jordan in early March in support of Operation Spartan Shield replacing the 655th Regional Support Group of Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, as the Base Operating Support-Integrator (BOS-I) for U.S. forces in Jordan. The 655th RSG has been mobilized to Jordan since last July. Their commander, Col. Theresa Rusin, gave thanks to their hosts in her outgoing remarks. “Despite our great longing for our families and loved ones who are waiting for us back home, it will be difficult for us to say goodbye to our partners in Jordan,” Rusin said. Assuming command of ASG-J was Col. Derek Ulehla, commander of the 301st MEB, who thanked the 655th RSG for preparing the 301st MEB for the BOS-I mission. “Let us continue in their tradition and make a lasting impact,” said Ulehla. At ASG-J, the 301st MEB joined the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard, which has been in Jordan since November. “We feel fortunate to be working with our neighbors from back home,” said Ulehla during the ceremony. “It will be rewarding to get up every day and know that our Soldiers from the Pacific Northwest are representing the best of the United States.” The 1-303rd Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. Timothy Ozmer, operates the military training partnership between the U.S. and Jordan under the Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP). The JOEP is the largest Title 10 U.S. Code Section 333 program of its kind. It was established to build a strong and enduring partnership with Jordan, which is one of the nation’s strongest allies in the region. “Our mission is now to support training in Jordan as we build partner capabilities and develop joint readiness,” said Ulehla. “We will continue the legacy of past units that have represented our flag well by maintaining high-levels of engagement.” Coincidentally, the 301st MEB’s BOS-I and the 1-303rd Cavalry’s JOEP missions have brought together two brothers-in-law. Married to sisters, they are Staff Sgt. Zachary Taylor, a 91B Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic with the 301st MEB, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Burkey, a 19D Calvary Scout with the 1-303rd Calvary. Taylor said he found out he would be based out of the Joint Training Center, Jordan (JTC), alongside Burkey in November, and was ecstatic. “I’ve never worked with another unit from Washington,” said Taylor, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and native of Newport, Washington. “My daughter Avery is really excited that I’m here working with Uncle Dan.” “It’s crazy,” agreed Burkey, a two-tour Afghanistan veteran, and also of Newport, Washington. “Our units represent different branches and components of the Army. It’s wild that we left Washington State to serve overseas and ended up together.” The brothers-in-law expressed they have enjoyed their experiences in Jordan thus far. “It’s been fun for our Soldiers,” said Burkey, a platoon sergeant with A Troop, 1-303rd Calvary. “They’re getting a lot of training time and leadership experience that we’re going to bring back to Washington.” “We’ve been building relationships with the Jordanians here at JTC from day one,” said Taylor, who is in charge of maintenance at ASG-J. “The Jordanians are really good people and motivated to work with us,” added Burkey. “Their officers are extremely capable. Many of them have trained overseas in joint environments.” “We’re honored to be here,” said Taylor. The brothers-in-law serve in uniform back home as well. Taylor is a military technician for the Army Reserve at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Burkey is a police officer with the Priest River Police Department in Idaho. Both are familiar with long periods of duty overseas, and wished to acknowledge their wives for their enduring support. “I want to thank my wife Ashley for taking care of our kids, Chase, Kassidie, Cohen, and Kinley,” said Burkey. “I’m really proud of my wife, Richele, who is working and studying full time while taking care of Avery while I’m gone,” said Taylor. 62 | Washington Military Department | Spring 2020
From left, Staff Sgt. Daniel Burkey of the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Zachary Taylor of the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. This month, the 301st MEB joined the 1-303rd Cavalry, which has been in Jordan since November, uniting the Soldiers who happen to be brothers-in-law. (photo by Capt. Ernest Wang)
SSG Cory Nacnac, Alpha Troop, 1-303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington National Guard, attached to the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, conduct preparations for training while deployed in the Middle East, Feb. 10, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Cindi King)
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Washington Military Department Evergreen Magazine - Spring 2020