COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina was very fortunate to be spared a direct strike from Hurricane Irma, but as the storm continued a path northward after inundating Florida, the state experienced high winds and flooding when the outer bands reached the South Carolina coast Sept. 11.
More than 500 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were mobilized in advance of Irma to provide assistance in anticipation of these impacts.
For the 132nd Military Police Company, South Carolina Army National Guard, their mission began Sept. 9, assisting people evacuate coastal communities and augmenting law enforcement efforts to protect businesses and communities. It's a mission they are very familiar with in recent years, as they were called to support during the state-wide flood in 2015, as well as, Hurricane Mathew in 2016.
A total of 30 Soldiers with the 132nd MP unit headquartered in West Columbia, South Carolina, were activated to support local state agencies and law enforcement, working day and night shifts supporting security and patrols in the low country.
For Sgt. 1st Class Robert Moon, Platoon Sgt. in the 132nd MP Co., this state activation is what he has trained for and in addition to his family's tradition of military service, the reason he joined the South Carolina National Guard.
Moon has served on several overseas deployments and now three state activations during his 17 years of being a Guard member. His experiences both as a Soldier in a military police unit and as a training manager with a security company have prepared him well for his duties and responsibilities helping during a disaster response.
"My civilian job is very supportive when it comes to my military career," said Moon. "They know during this time of the year if we have a state of emergency, I'm normally activated and they never question it."
The South Carolina National Guard trains with their community partners in advance of hurricane season to ensure lessons learned from previous events are reviewed and individuals are familiarized with any changes in procedures.
"In the past, communication and coordination were issues," said Moon. "We have had a lot of improvement in this area which allows us to get the mission complete without interruption."
The Soldiers with the 132nd patrolled with law enforcement and the Department of National Resources in Beaufort, Ridgeland, Hardeeville, and surrounding communities during Hurricane Irma. Leading up to the impacts of Irma, the Soldiers said they did not see any looting nor have any major issues with security.
"It makes things a lot easier for everyone when people cooperate with us in law enforcement," said Moon. "We are not here to create any issues, we are here to help and protect people and are here for them."