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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2020

True Grit

By Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities

After more than six months of continuous activation, it’s fair to say we’ve reached a steady state in our support of the state’s coronavirus relief efforts.

About 220 New Hampshire guardsmen are assigned to a core group of missions including warehouse operations, PPE distribution, drive-thru testing sites, and DHHS mapping that likely will continue into the new year.

With schools opening and elections around the corner, Task Force Distro has played an especially crucial role for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of State this month stocking and distributing tens of thousands of cases of PPE to supplement school districts and ensure polling sites meet evolving public health and safety protocols.

At the same time, we’ve been able to end our mission in support of the New Hampshire Food Bank on a high note. A dedicated team of 25 citizen-Soldiers and Airmen led by Sgt. Maj. Rachel Fleharty-Strevig staffed drive-thru pantries in Colebrook, Gorham, Loudon, Plymouth, Littleton, Dover, Newport, North Conway, Laconia, Nashua, Concord and Manchester. They delivered more than 430,000 meals, or more than 500,000 pounds of food, to about 6,400 families. They were also a mainstay at the charity’s facility in Manchester, sorting more than 400,000 pounds of food, which helped create more than 270,000 meals. A small cadre of Guard cooks were responsible for preparing 57,580 meals. Others from the team helped prep the charity’s vegetable garden back in April, digging trenches and raising beds.

I am pleased to report there has been no let down in readiness despite the new limits COVID-19 has placed on training. Our Army and Air units have been focused and creative with their ATs. A platoon-size contingent from the 3643d Brigade Support Battalion has been equally determined in accomplishing its pre-mobilization requirements as it prepares to deploy in September in support of the Southwest Border Mission.

I would also like to recognize the three soldiers who competed in this year’s abbreviated Best Warrior Competition. Because of the pandemic, a four-day event in the spring normally held at multiple locations with as many as 30 competitors – to include a handful of ringers from our state partners El Salvador and Canada – had to be postponed until August.

Staff Sgt. Devin Anderson of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Sgt. Anthony Streck of the 197th Field Artillery Brigade, and Spc. Haley Hawthorne of the 3643d Brigade Support Battalion endured 80 percent humidity and a grueling succession of warrior tasks compressed into less than 24 hours. Each demonstrated true grit. Anderson and Hawthorne advanced to represent New Hampshire at the regional completion in Vermont. While they didn’t place, they were recognized for their effort and perseverance. Hawthorne, the only female competitor, earned the “Biggest Heart” award.

Overseas, 82 Soldiers and Airmen continue to do their part supporting combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jordan. Two guardsmen are supporting the border mission.

As I stress in every update, continue to safeguard against complacency and rumors. Stay informed and be especially mindful of social distancing and hygiene protocols. I encourage each of you to continue to wear a mask when you are out on mission. If you are struggling financially or emotionally, contact the FAC’s resource and referral number at 1-877-598-0666, the Airman and Family Readiness Program Coordinator at 603-828-3892, or our Care Coordination Program at 1-888-989-9924.

It's been a tremendous privilege to lead this organization through such an unprecedented period in our nation’s history. We’ve rediscovered, and embraced, our roots as a state militia established to protect and aid our fellow citizens in a time of need. Your governor and I could not be any prouder of your performance and your dedication.

Sincerely,

Major General David Mikolaities
Adjutant General
New Hampshire National Guard