By Don Branum
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Vermont National Guard Soldiers and Airmen couldn’t have known what kind of year that would await them, but Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the adjutant general for the Vermont National Guard, said as he reflects on the year that he couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“The state of Vermont called upon you all to provide critical care and support to our community as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation, and you answered in a way that reflects greatly upon yourselves, the Army and Air Force, and the state,” Knight said.
COVID-19 entered the United States in mid-January, just weeks after Air Force Col. David Shevchik Jr. took command of the Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing. By March, the World Health Organization had declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic, and the federal government had declared a national emergency.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott activated the Vermont National Guard to assist with pandemic response efforts by standing up testing centers and constructing an alternate health care facility. Airmen assembled tens of thousands of test kits and moved hundreds of packages of personal protective equipment to support school reopenings in August and September. In November, Soldiers reassembled the alternate health care facility as the rate of new cases in Vermont surged above 100 per day.
But while the Vermont Guard took on its new mission, it still had existing commitments to honor for its state and national missions. More than 1,000 Soldiers began preparation in 2020 for overseas deployments slated for early 2021. In addition, over 85 Airmen deployed to support U.S. Central Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. European Command in late 2020.
In Vermont, medical officers provided virtual trauma training for students in the North Macedonia armed forces in September. The VTARNG’s Combined Cyber Response Team, comprising Soldiers from 2nd Detachment, 136th Cyber Security Company, and Joint Force Headquarters, Vermont Defensive Cyber Operations Element, worked with the University of Vermont Health Network to restore services in November after a cyberattack crippled UVMHN’s computer systems.
Meanwhile, the wing continued training operations with its fleet of F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, logging its 1,000th F-35 sortie during its annual Northern Lightning exercise at Volk Field, Wisconsin.
The Air National Guard has recognized the accomplishments of Airmen with the wing, naming James Sides the Air National Guard security forces flight-level civilian supervisor of the year and naming Julie Shea the ANG’s outstanding communications civilian in its 2020 Air Force Public Affairs Communication Excellence Awards.