LANSING, Mich. – When the Edenville and Sanford Dams breached at night May 19, residents of Midland were ordered to evacuate their homes as the rising waters threatened safety and property.
The Michigan National Guard was there, shuttling residents stranded by the flooding to shelters, delivering more than 150 cots and water to these facilities, and preserving more then $2 million worth of books and art at the flooded Dow Memorial Library. More than 263 Guard members supported this mission.
When a peaceful presence was required in late May and early June to ensure public safety as people expressed their First Amendment rights, law enforcement called in reliable partners to assist with protecting people and property during a trying time for Michigan communities.
The Michigan National Guard was there, in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids. An additional 475 personnel supported this mission.
As COVID-19 continues to impact Michigan six months into a global pandemic, the Michigan National Guard is there. Guard members have distributed more than 7 million pounds of food, completed COVID-19 testing at 85 Michigan Department of Corrections facilities and 236 long-term care facilities, and continues to distribute more than 109,000 COVID-19 tests at dozens of drive-through testing sites. Since March 18, a peak of 1,100 Michigan National Guard members have supported these missions.
“It’s easy to look at the Michigan National Guard through the lens of COVID only, like this is all that we’re doing, when in reality, these domestic support operations are merely a small piece of our total scope of operations,” said Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Meanwhile, none of our operational commitments to combatant commanders around the world have been reduced.”
In 2020, Michigan National Guard members continue to support deployments abroad, including in the Middle East. On Jan. 8, Sgt. 1st Class Leonard Adams, a flight medic with Detachment 1, Company C, 3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion in Grand Ledge, Michigan, was injured in an Iranian missile attack on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Adams was evacuated to receive treatment and was presented with a Purple Heart medal on May 5.
Seven other Michigan National Guard units (totaling nearly 650 members) have mobilized for deployment while the Guard’s COVID-19 response carried on. These include members of the 3-126 Infantry Regiment, Dowagiac; 745th Ordnance Company, Grayling; Detachment 1, Company B, 3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion, Selfridge ANG Base, Company D, 3-238th GSAB, Grand Ledge, 2/B/351 CS Det (all serving in the Middle East) as well as the 46th Military Police Command and the 3-126th Infantry Regiment, supporting missions stateside.
More than 960 Airmen with the Michigan Air National Guard from the 127th Wing in Macomb County and the 110th Wing in Battle Creek have served overseas this year.
The Michigan National Guard has even partnered this spring and summer with Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources to improve infrastructure at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula. The 177th Military Police Brigade of the Michigan National Guard, as well as the MING Joint Staff, is also working with counterparts in the Virgin Islands to prepare their emergency response to any hurricanes.
Add to this list of projects the Michigan National Guard’s continuing initiative to strengthen ties with the greater Detroit area, with a plan to build two readiness centers and a field maintenance shop along public transit lines in Detroit. The MING’s “Detroit Initiative” includes expanding partnerships to enhance STEM, license/certification, and mentorship opportunities.
The Guard also helps at-risk youth through the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, offering free education, training and mentoring in a quasi-military environment. In May, the MYCA graduated its largest class ever, 113 cadets, despite COVID-19.
“The Michigan National Guard is not just a part of Michigan’s statewide response to COVID,” said Rogers. “We are an integral component of America’s National Defense Strategy, and we’re actively engaged in global operations that protect our national security.”
He added: “When we say we’re always ready and always there, we mean it, and the last six months have readily proven that.”