Editor’s Note: Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk is the adjutant general of North Carolina. He recently penned a note of thanks to the Wisconsin National Guard for its assistance during the state’s response during Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. The Wisconsin National Guard sent two UH-60 Black Hawk medevac aircraft from the Wisconsin Army National Guard flight facility in West Bend and 12 personnel to North Carolina where they assisted in a number of missions ranging from wide area searches to transport of critical personnel throughout the region.
Imagine you are a National Guard service member at home with your family when the phone rings. It’s your unit commander who tells you that you are ordered to state duty for disaster response and have 24 hours to arrive at your unit and deploy to the disaster area. You turn on the television to see what is happening, but your state is not in crisis mode or in a state of emergency. Its blue skies and a beautiful day in your hometown and state. You then realize you’re going to North Carolina, hundreds of miles away where a major hurricane is about to slam into its coastline.
Why would a Guardsman leave his state to conduct disaster response missions elsewhere? We are a Guard Nation, a National Guard Family and when disaster strikes in our homeland we rapidly answer the call to duty no matter the location.
The Wisconsin National Guard did just that for the citizens of North Carolina, and their fellow Guardsmen.
When a state finds itself in need of additional personnel and equipment to respond to a governor-declared state of emergency, such as during Hurricane Florence, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) serves as the mechanism to share National Guard capabilities and resources. Through EMAC, North Carolina Emergency Management, on behalf of NC Governor Roy Cooper, was able to coordinate with the Wisconsin Guard to gain much needed helicopter aviation support.
The Wisconsin National Guard’s professional teams of helicopter crews joined Soldiers and Airmen from across North Carolina and 13 other states, flying hundreds of hours and saving hundreds of lives, in a coordinated disaster response effort that brought comfort and aide to those affected by the storm. The helicopter teams also transported essential personnel and ensured much needed supplies were delivered throughout the impacted areas.
These dedicated Guardsmen selflessly left their families to help others in need. As I interacted with the National Guard men and women who came to North Carolina to help respond to Hurricane Florence’s devastating heavy rains and winds, an overwhelming majority said that this type of mission, disaster response, was the primary reason they joined the National Guard. Being able to help fellow Americans during periods of emergency provides a Guardsman an almost incomparable sense of accomplishment.
The past two years have been incredibly eventful, here at home, for our Nation with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, and Hurricanes Florence and Michael this year. Throughout all of these disasters, it was our own Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard who responded first to assist local and state first responders.
As a National Guard Soldier, who joined the Guard almost 40 years ago, it is most humbling and such an honor to stand together with members of the Wisconsin National Guard. On behalf of the almost 12,000 North Carolina Guard men and women, I sincerely thank you for your support during Hurricane Florence.