CHARLESTON, W.Va. --
The West Virginia National Guard had numerous significant accomplishments in 2019 that included homeland and disaster response missions, deployments around the globe, innovative training and the forging of new partnerships at home and abroad.
“Once again, the West Virginia National Guard has proven to be a leader across the National Guard. This was demonstrated in 2019 through the work of our 6,400 Soldiers and Airmen who work each day to secure and strengthen our great state and enhance our nation’s National Defense Strategy, both at home and abroad,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the WVNG. “We remain a cost-effective and proven force recognized throughout the nation as a premier military organization. I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of our men and women and know they will continue to demonstrate our unique capabilities on the local, state, national and international stage in 2020.”
Over the past year, our men and women displayed the integrity and commitment to our mission that demonstrated “Mountaineer Pride Worldwide” in every endeavor they undertook. In addition to training and equipping our forces for rapid mobilization in the event our country calls upon us, Soldiers and Airmen supported such events as hurricane recovery efforts in South Carolina, flooding response in the Eastern Panhandle and continued to build upon our international partnerships in Peru, Qatar, and the Baltic states. In addition, the WVNG deployed more than 1,500 individuals in support of contingency operations and state active duty support.
In 2019, the WVNG also served as a lead planning and support entity for the 24th World Scout Jamboree, a National Special Security Event and the first World Scout Jamboree to be held in the United States in more than 50 years. Our men and women assisted their state by continuing to oversee recovery efforts from the 2016 flood, supporting drug prevention efforts in their communities and assisting in the state’s economic development and diversification through programs such as Patriot Guardens.
Other West Virginia National Guard accomplishments in 2019 include:
• All West Virginia Army and Air National Guard units met and exceeded end strength with more than 100 percent manning. In addition to meeting end strength goals, the Recruiting and Retention Battalion’s launched the Future Leaders Program in 2019 with more than 500 cadets enrolled across 12 schools in five counties. The program has created 15 full-time positions, primarily filled by prior service and current military members.
• Nearly 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen deployed in support of contingency operations for Operation Freedom Sentinel, Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield in 2019.
• Both the 130th Airlift Wing and 167th Airlift Wing deployed personnel in support of state, Air Force and joint/interagency operations and exercises in Antarctica, Austria, Bosnia, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Niger, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey. Additional personnel supported operations in the U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and the Indo-Pacific Command in 2019.
• The 130th Airlift Wing led a multi-state domestic operations exercise, SENTRY STORM, featuring four total-force Air Force units, which tested readiness for mass casualty and medical evacuation scenarios as well as tactical flying requirements necessary for operating in a deployed environment.
• The 167th Airlift Wing received the Aviation Energy and Innovation Award for C-17 aircraft due to its significant contributions to effective and efficient aviation fuel usage.
• More than 500 members of the 1st Squadron, 150th Cavalry Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 201st Field Artillery Regiment were federally activated in November and deployed to the Middle East as a part of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
• The 753rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company completed over 13,000 man-hours of work during a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. The unit disposed of more than two million ordnance items, conducted over 50 named operations, removed over 40 Improvised Explosive Devices from the battlefield and conducted more than 200 route clearance patrols.
• The 3664th Support Maintenance Company completed a deployment to Kuwait where they achieved a 75% shop efficiency rating with an operational readiness rating of 95% for all vehicles. The unit completed over 2,000 work orders while deployed.
• The four-person 1935th Contingency Contracting Team provided contract administration and oversight for approximately $7.13 billion of delegated contracts during a deployment to Kuwait in 2019.
• The 821st Engineer Company deployed throughout the Central Command Area of Responsibility where they provided critical engineer support to various units in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
• Our special operators concluded deployments and training exercises in the European Theater, Nepal, Poland, Taiwan and Bosnia. All missions were an extremely valuable opportunity to broaden U.S. influence and continue to further build relationships on the international stage.
• The 1092nd Engineer Battalion deployed personnel to Romania as part of Resolute Castle 2019, a multinational joint training exercise for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and U.S. Army engineers that supports Atlantic Resolve, a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to the collective security of Europe.
• The 35th Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) completed more than 74 missions supporting multiple state and federal partners in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and hazardous material response operations, which included a real-world response to Stevens Correctional Facility in McDowell County for an unknown white powder incident.
• The West Virginia-Peru and West Virginia-Qatar partnerships completed 42 engagements this year focused on Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development, engineering projects, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, Global Peace Operations Initiatives, CBRNE response and Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
• The WVNG Counterdrug Task Force flew more than 693 hours in 2019 supporting counter narcotics missions, which facilitated law enforcement officials eradicating and seizing illegal drugs and assets valued at over $1 billion.
• The West Virginia National Guard Drug Prevention Support program supported 70,314 student contacts through coalition activities such as mentoring sessions and book readings in 54 schools in 18 counties.
• In 2019, West Virginia was one of three states selected to launch the Department of Defense’s Job ChalleNGe Program, which provides former Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduates with career and technical education leading to industry recognized certification and job placement within that trade. The Mountaineer Job ChalleNGe Program graduated 14 cadets form its initial cohort in December.
• The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy has graduated 4,663 West Virginia teens since 1993 and has provided 1,704 high school diplomas for at-risk youth in West Virginia who have graduated from ChalleNGe Academy.
• Training and readiness for the National Guard and other Department of Defense entities remained high in 2018 thanks to the work of the WVNG. Camp Dawson’s training center in Kingwood, W.Va. trained a record 167,000 personnel, its second largest number in history. The Army Interagency Training and Education Center’s (AITEC) CBRN Battalion trained more than 8,936 Soldiers and Airmen in domestic CBRN response across the nation. The AITEC Critical Infrastructure Battalion (CIP) also conducted training and assessments for nearly 7,500 personnel directly involved in the protection of critical infrastructure and key resources throughout the nation.
• In 2019, The Department of Army Management Office – Cyber selected the WVNG’s CIP Battalion, along with the National Security Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and 1st Information Operations Command, to conduct Cybersecurity Mission Assurance Assessments of its critical infrastructure in support of a Congressional directive.
• The West Virginia National Guard played a significant role in the development of and initial training for the Governor’s Jobs and Hopes program. This year, two grader operator courses were held at Camp Dawson where 12 personnel graduated with industry level certification and interviewed for open positions in West Virginia.
• WVNG STARBASE programs provided 152 academies with focused STEM curriculum serving more than 3,700 students in Kanawha, Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.
• The West Virginia National Guard has supported the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) in successfully addressing over 90% of audit findings from 2018 and 2019, positioning the Division to better respond to emergent and non-emergent events for the State. Additionally, the WVNG has shared best practices for financial policies and procedures, organizational structure, human resources and payroll for DHSEM.
While our year was full of successful missions and continued innovation, we were sadly reminded that the price of freedom is often high. The WVNG lost two Soldiers this year: Master Sgt. Nicholas Sheperty who suffered fatal injuries during a domestic training accident, and Staff Sgt. William “Billy” Friese, who died in a non-combat related incident in Kuwait.
“We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support for these dedicated Citizen-Soldiers and their families. It should remind us all that even preparing to defend our State and Nation is inherently dangerous work. Every day that we don our uniforms we keep them and all our Gold Star Family members in our hearts and minds and are grateful for their lives of dedication to duty and service,” said Hoyer.