By STAFF SGT. RICHARD HOLDRIDGE
Georgia National Guard
More than 80 Georgia Air National Guardsmen from Savannah’s 165th Air Support Operations Squadron joined Army National Guardsmen of the 878th Engineering Battalion in a cooperative effort in Augusta to assist local responders during Winter Storm Pax.
The 165th Air Support Operations Squadron conducted route reconnaissance and route clearance missions, removing more than 20 downed trees from the roads. The Airmen also transported several citizens from their homes to nearby shelter and transported key local agency personnel to critical work sites.
“Our mission was to patrol the Interstate 20 corridor to identify motorists in need (of help) and (to) render assistance.” said Maj. Nicholas Anthony, the 165th Air Support Operations Squadron team officer in charge.
The Soldiers and Airmen operated in an area encompassing Augusta, Elberton, Monroe and Athens. They were part of a statewide effort involving more than 1,000 Georgia Guardsmen and Georgia State Defense force personnel operating from 150 vehicles.
The ice storm left many residents without power and heat. Several vehicles were stuck in ditches throughout the city, and Guards-men used their tactical vehicles to pull the cars out. A couple who live near the Augusta armory was provided shelter, warmth and a hot meal by an 878th Engineer Battalion Soldier who had only recently returned from Afghanistan.
“I just want to tell the Georgia Guard ‘thank you,’” said Augusta resident Paige McDaniels after members of the 165th Air Support Operations Squadron transported her and her three grandchildren to a local church that provided shelter to families in need. “The Guard did an awesome job. I appreciate it.”