In the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast region in 2005, and as America continues its military efforts in the Middle East, now is an appropriate time to reflect on the vast contributions of Nevada's dedicated guardsmen and women.
Nevada's patriotic citizen soldiers have responded swiftly to our nation's call to duty, providing a variety of primary and support functions to disaster and war stricken regions across the globe. Nevada is proud of its soldiers - their unwavering spirit, unquestionable courage and relentless devotion to America brings honor to the Silver State.
The Nevada Guard has often been called on to provide aid and support domestically, and time and time again it has answered the call. Nearly 250 Nevada guardsmen and women were among the first responders to provide national assistance to hurricane-ravaged areas along the Gulf Coast.
In Katrina's wake, the Nevada Guard moved quickly to mobilize an emergency medical team to the area to assist the overburdened local authorities with medical response and treatment. This medical team was the first out-of-state Guard presence in the region and its 50 dedicated members worked tirelessly, treating several thousand displaced Americans. A team of nearly 200 Nevada Guard members provided further aid, working as security forces in both the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome.
Since 2000, more than 350 Nevada guardsmen and women have been deployed to various locations throughout Nevada to support state relief efforts, including floods, fires, and dangerous winter conditions. During the 2004 Waterfall Fire in Carson City, the Nevada Air National Guard provided valuable aerial reconnaissance, keeping firefighters on the ground appraised of containment efforts. The accurate, timesaving information they provided ultimately helped authorities to contain the blaze and significantly limit the damage it caused.
Since 9/11, Nevada's Guard has proudly shouldered its share of the burden in military operations in the Middle East as well. Nearly 950 guardsmen have been mobilized to areas across Southwest Asia, including Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia. They have supplied training, personnel and equipment for important long haul trucking operations and a Nevada civil engineering unit has provided assistance and support in building and maintaining vital facilities. An additional 500 Nevada Guard members have been deployed to various military installations within the U.S. to bolster logistics and training efforts in the War on Terrorism.
The Nevada Air Guard has assisted in regional intelligence operations through the use of its C-130s equipped with scatheview technology. These planes fly ahead of large-scale military convoys and, using the infrared scatheview technology, provide reconnaissance information in the area allowing the convoy to proceed without fear of attack or ambush by insurgents. These versatile planes are also used in large-scale airlift operations, where their ability to safely land in austere conditions makes them extremely valuable. In Afghanistan, Nevada's Guard uses its Chinnock Helicopters to assist in troop movements and critical cargo transport.
Perhaps most importantly, we must recognize the families, friends, neighbors and employers of these brave men and women for their steadfast commitment to our soldiers, our state and our nation.
The families of Nevada's guard members are a close nit and supportive group. They rise to meet the challenge of each new day, supporting each other through the hard times and rejoicing together in times of celebration. Throughout the Silver State, Nevada's communities have pulled together to support our soldiers; our state's overwhelming sense of honor and patriotism is truly something we can all be proud of. Finally, we cannot forget the employers of our guardsmen and women. They too share in our nation's burden and ensure that our hardworking citizen soldiers have quality jobs to come home to.
Nevada owes a debt of gratitude to our Nevada National Guard. They risk their lives so that we may continue to enjoy the privileges, freedoms and quality of life to which we have become accustomed. On behalf of the Silver State, our sincere thanks and appreciation to our soldiers deployed throughout the world. We wish each of you Godspeed and a safe return home.