On Friday, March 18, the National Guard in Johnson County held a luncheon for local leaders with the hopes of creating a partnership with the county for recruiting and future emergency needs. The goal of the day was to create an understanding of oneness within the community in regards to the National Guard. Sgt 1st Class Perry, one of the speakers, asked to “help us keep this organization strong, so we can keep this community strong.”
The luncheon began with a tour of the equipment that the Johnson County National Guard unit utilizes. The unit in Johnson County is a maintenance unit and is responsible for assisting in emergency situations around the world and in their community. The equipment is state of the art and can be used for a variety of tasks. All equipment is generator powered and basically self-sufficient. Besides the equipment, the armory itself can be used as an emergency management shelter as well.
After the tour of equipment, all in attendance were treated to a BBQ lunch; during this time National Guard representatives gave a presentation. Captain Thomas Hunt, who works out of the Elizabethton and Mountain City unit, introduced all the speakers and briefly discussed the unit’s history.
There are only two maintenance units in the state of Tennessee, so the work that is being done in Johnson County is crucial. Through the years the unit has deployed several times as a whole, in small groups, and as individuals.
When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana is 2005, the 776th Maintenance Company packed up and headed south. The 776th has had two men volunteer to go to Iraq, six soldiers go to Arizona for the Border Mission, and a group that went to Alaska to assist with building a road for Alaska Natives. They have also helped out in Johnson County when there were emergencies because of extreme weather conditions, such as the tornado that touched down in April 2011.
Next was Major Del Castillo, who said, “Going forward we want you to understand what we can provide for community and the youth here. We can help them become employed through military training and help them learn skills that can be used in civilian life.”
Major Castillo also held a Coining Ceremony to reward two Johnson County National Guard members, SSG James Greever and SSG Pierce for the good work they were doing at the Johnson County unit. This ceremony is important to the guard because it directly recognizes an individual for the personal work he or she is accomplishing.
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