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Homeland Security

Texas Guard relief mission begins drawing down

By Maj. Joye Haun

CLEVELAND, Texas (Army News Service, Oct. 5, 2005) – With power coming on throughout the area, Texas National Guard Soldiers with Task Force Seguin transferred food and water distribution duties Oct. 4 to other groups and local authorities. The team is scheduled to begin redeploying home today.

“There are still a few rural areas requiring assistance, and in those cases we’ve handed off responsibility to another National Guard task force,” said Lt. Col. Philip Vaneau, the task force commander.

Task Force Seguin, with 300 Army and Air National Guard members from throughout Texas, has been assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency with food, ice and water distribution in Liberty, Polk, and Tyler Counties since Sept. 28. The team has distributed a total of 23,192 meals to residents impacted by Hurricane Rita, along with 34,139 bags of ice and almost 40,000 cases of water.

The National Guard has been staging out of Cleveland High School, where classes resumed Oct. 4. Principal Mike Ogden allowed Guard members to sleep in the school gymnasium and park their 65 vehicles in the school parking lot. ROTC teachers have even taken advantage of the military’s presence to enhance their curriculum.

The Cleveland junior ROTC performed the morning flag raising ceremony in conjunction with National Guard members Oct 4. Afterward, JROTC classes listened as Capt. Eric Cox, a former teacher in San Antonio’s Northside School District, described his experiences during this humanitarian relief mission.

“Our mission was to take care of the county and feed people,” Captain Cox told the students. “We ate the same food we were passing out,” he said in answer to a question about MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).

Cleveland city officials prepared a barbecue dinner as a send off for Task Force Seguin Oct. 4. More than half the task force members have been working non-stop since the beginning of September when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast.

When they leave, Army National Guard members will convoy to Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, before redeploying to their home units.

“Tomorrow, regrettably, we will shake hands with our new friends in Liberty County and East Texas and say goodbye,” said Maj. Jon Thompson. We were proud to assist Texans, and will be ready for any future calls.”

(Editor’s note: Maj. Joye Haun is a public affairs officer with Task Force Seguin in Cleveland, Texas.)

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