A year of challenges for the Nevada Guard

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carson City Sheriff's detective Kate Summers talks in her office Friday about her experience serving with the National Guard in Louisiana.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carson City Sheriff's detective Kate Summers talks in her office Friday about her experience serving with the National Guard in Louisiana.

In a year of disasters, both nationwide and at home in Nevada, and the continuing struggle to provide security overseas, one constant remained through the uncertainty - when the call went out, the Nevada Army National Guard and Nevada Air National Guard responded.

It was a year of challenges as guard members dealt with the upheaval of preparing for deployment, both at home and abroad, on 12 hours notice.

"It's been a year of ups and downs for us, but we have accomplished a lot," said Capt. April Conway, Nevada National Guard public affairs officer.

The Air Guard and Nevada National Guard continued their presence overseas in 2005, with the 152nd Airlift Wing, 1864th Transportation Company, 45 Operational Support Airlift and Company D, 113th Aviation Regiment stationed in locations all over southwest Asia, Africa and Antarctica.

The 1864th drove millions of pounds of cargo and two million miles during their deployment all over Iraq and Kuwait. The 45th OSA continues to fly dignitaries, including high ranking military officials, throughout southwest Asia, according to Conway.

While soldiers continued their deployments overseas, a different battle was brewing at home as the Base Closure and Realignment Commission released the list of recommended closures in May, among them the reduction of the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing, meaning the loss of more than half the unit's soldiers and aircraft.

"They were set to lose all their aircraft and half of their personnel. The capabilities for the state that would have been lost if that decision had been made was just huge," Conway said.

In August, the BRAC voted to remove the unit from the list of closures and in September the updated list was ratified by Congress. Just two weeks later, the unit that had been on the chopping block was called to aid the rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

"We responded to the hurricanes with between 200 and 250 medical, security and logistic support personnel as well as aircraft from the Army and Air Guard sides. This was huge for us because it came two weeks after the BRAC decided to take us off the base closure list, which would have taken the C-130s used to help following Katrina," Conway said.

Medical Detachment 1st Sgt. Cate Summers was among those called to Louisiana. She was given 24-hours notice to pack her bags and be ready for transport.

"We were looking at the situation and we knew we would be called up," Summers said. "That mission was a test, they delivered babies and puppies, started IVs for dogs and handed out diapers and food."

Summers, a detective in the Carson City Sheriff's Office, has been with the Nevada National Guard for 16 years and said her employer is very supportive of her service.

"The Sheriff's Department is 100 percent supportive. They sent their own team to help. They understand there is a balance between work and being in the guard," she said.

Then on the celebration of the state's birthday, the 1864th Transportation Company, named for the year the state was formed, returned home from a deployment in the Middle East.

Conway said the guard is looking forward to the return of the 113th in March and will continue to serve the state and the nation, no matter when the call comes.

"Next year we will continue to be ready for any mission that comes up," she said.

-- Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@Nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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