WVNG Steps up to Provide Flood Relief to Southern Counties, 167th Provides Equipment, Personnel to Support the Effort
By Capt. Andrew Schmidt and Staff Sgt Sherree Grebenstein, 167th Airlift Wing
/ Published June 18, 2009
Martinsburg, WV -- In the wake of the recent floods that washed away homes and businesses in southern West Virginia, the 167th Airlift Wing contributed equipment and personnel to the clean-up effort, held as a joint operation between the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard.
According to Lt. Col. Jeff Rives, commander of the 167th Finance Section, the unit sent "about 70" personnel and a variety of heavy equipment to the areas of flooding, including dump trucks, pick-up trucks and a 28-passenger bus. The team came mainly from the Logistics Readiness, Headquarters, Maintenance, Air Evacuation and Operations Squadrons.
Vice Commander Col. Brian Truman said he was impressed with how many stepped up and answered the call to volunteer. "On two separate occasions I was proud of the rapid way the Wing responded to the call for help," he said. "On these occasions we identified 10-15 volunteers each time within a three-hour period who were ready to deploy the next day."
Senior Master Sgt. Gary Breeden from the 167th Civil Engineer Squadron summed the mission up this way: "We help fill in the blanks." The Martinsburg resident said the civil engineers and other team members were ready for any mission as needed.
Whether hauling rock or helping repair infrastructure, 167th personnel were eager to pull their weight and more in flood recovery efforts.
With a determined look on his face, Staff Sgt. Lucas Ruppenthal sat behind the wheel of one of the dump trucks that he convoyed down in from the 167th on May 18. The Hedgesville resident wanted to drop off his load and return to the mountain top for several more scoops of rock from the giant crane which clawed the hillside.
"I'm proud to have the opportunity to come down here and serve the people of West Virginia and help them recover from the flood," he said.