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NEWS | April 7, 2020

North Carolina Guard answers call in COVID-19 pandemic

By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan North Carolina National Guard

RALEIGH, N.C. – More than 240 North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) Soldiers and Airmen deployed across the state to deliver food and medical supplies and perform other missions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the North Carolina Army National Guard’s (NCARNG) 113th Sustainment Brigade, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, NCNG’s Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) and North Carolina Air National Guard’s (NCANG) 145th Airlift Wing deployed to Greensboro, the Triangle and Triad areas for warehouse management and commodities distribution and cyber operations.

“This is different from hurricanes. We are altering our force packages to fit the pandemic,” said NCARNG Maj. Aaron Youngblood, director of military support, serving at NCNG JFHQ.

These Soldiers and Airmen augmented full-time NCNG professionals’ ongoing cyber, planning and command and control missions.

At facilities in the Triangle and Triad, NCNG members brought years of experience and training to the demands of quickly and efficiently distributing critical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.

“When we get the word, we are ready to go,” said NCARNG Capt. Markus Gaines, a leader at the Greensboro planning cell assigned to the 630th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Lenoir.

Leaders in planning cells at the NCNG’s Greensboro armory and JFHQ in Raleigh scoured manifests and shipping records matching them with medical requirements from providers statewide.

“We are working all together with any state agency you can think of to bring all the resources the Guard can bring,” Youngblood said.

Soldiers in Greensboro prepared specialty military vehicles, including Light Medium Tactical Vehicles and Humvees, for any mission required from civilian agencies.

“It’s exciting, a great opportunity for us to help,” said Sgt. Jessica Duncan, a mechanic on duty at Greensboro Armory and assigned to 1450th Transportation Company headquartered in Lenoir.

Soldiers and Airmen working from home continue the mission for state and nation. Conference calls, telecommuting and other remote work plans keep critical personnel on mission.

One example, NCARNG Maj. Shawna Fitzpatrick, NCNG knowledge management officer, tracked critical information for Soldiers, Airmen and leaders across the NCNG. Her team created a digital platform with the number of worldwide COVID-19 cases, cases to the North Carolina county level, deployment of NCNG force packages and current personnel status for Guard and state leaders.

Securing this information infrastructure fell to a team of six NCNG cyber experts.

“We have to make sure the (COVID-19) caregivers and others have the systems to do the job,” said NCARNG 1st Lt. Joseph Muraguri, 196th Signal Company commander.