By Don Branum
| Vermont National Guard Public Affairs | Dec. 21, 2020
An Army specialist with 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment of the Vermont Army National Guard conducts their annual Spur Ride at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho, Vermont, Sept. 6, 2020. The soldiers were tested on mission essential tasks as they completed a 6.5-mile ruck march. (Photo by Cpl. Gillian McCreedy)
Soldiers with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, 86th Troop Command, Garrison Support Command, Vermont National Guard, performed hoist training with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters over Camp Johnson in Colchester, Vermont, Aug. 7, 2020. The Soldiers were conducting training as part of their annual training. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard)
Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Vermont National Guard's COVID-19 response reconstruct the Alternate Healthcare Facility at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds in Essex Junction, Vermont, Nov. 19, 2020. The AHF was originally constructed in April, but was disassembled in July after seeing little use. The Vermont National Guard is reusing the materials from the earlier project to construct this smaller facility, which will remain locked until the the Vermont Department of Health determines it is needed. It can accommodate up to 200 patients if needed. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez)
Airmen assigned to the 158th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, assist Vermont Health Department workers prepare medical equipment for redistribution March 31, 2020. The equipment includes surgical masks and gowns, respirators, and other assorted safety gear that will be sent to hospitals, and emergency services all over Vermont. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez)
Vermont State Command Sgt. Maj. Nathan Chipman guides Pfc. Haley Hawthorne, New Hampshire Army National Guard, to the final event of the Best Warrior Competition Aug. 16. The Vermont Army National Guard hosted the Region One Best Warrior Competition at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont, Aug. 14-16. The New York National Guard took the top spot in both the Noncommissioned Officer and Enlisted categories. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez, 172nd PAD, VTARNG) (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez)
U.S. Army Soldiers with Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Maine Army National Guard, establish a support by fire position during a nighttime live-fire training lane, Ethan Allen Firing Range, Jericho, Vermont, July 20, 2020. The live-fire range was conducted as part of their annual training and included multiple assault elements, support by fire positions and door breaches. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard)
Vermont National Guard Soldiers and state partners load meals into vehicles in a parking lot in Peru, Vermont, May 19, 2020. The Vermont National Guard helps the Vermont Food Bank "Farmers to Families" program and Vermont Emergency Management deliver fresh produce, dairy and prepared meals. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Garth Dunkel)
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.