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American Forces Press Service

Guard Members Respond to Midwest Ice Storms

By Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

Arlington, Va., Dec. 13, 2007 – More than 140 National Guard members in the Midwest responded to a band of deadly mid-December storms that stretched from eastern Texas to the Ohio Valley and into northern New York and New England.

Missouri Army Guard Officer Candidate Neilson Rudd was one of more than 20 fatalities attributed to the storms, which brought freezing rain to more than 10 states and rain, sleet and snow to nearly half the nation.

Trees and power lines in some states were brought down by inch-thick ice accumulations, which closed roadways and left thousands in need of emergency assistance from the Guard and local and state agencies.

Missouri National Guard units were on standby for most of the week and throughout the weekend after their governor declared a state of emergency.

At least 22 Guard members responded. An Army Guard armory was used as a warming shelter, and soldiers provided security for residents there. Soldiers also provided transportation and cleared debris from roadways. Members of the 203rd Engineer Battalion provided generators and conducted door-to-door wellness checks for rural areas in Barton County.

Rudd saw an auto accident on Dec. 9 and stopped to check on the vehicles’ occupants. He was not on military duty at the time.

When returning to his vehicle on the Katy Trail Bridge, just north of Jefferson City on Highway 63, another vehicle lost control and struck him down. Rudd was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Officer Candidate Rudd,” said Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, Missouri adjutant general. “His actions exemplify the values of the United States Army and the Missouri National Guard.”

Officials said Rudd was returning from his weekend drill at the 140th Regional Training Institute, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., at the time of the accident. He enlisted in March 2006 as a military policeman with the 1140th MP Company in Fulton. He entered officer candidate school earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the governor of Oklahoma declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties due to the widespread freezing rain there. The state's joint operations center coordinated missions, and at least 77 Guard members responded to requests for assistance. They transported 100 cots and opened a Red Cross warming shelter at the armory in Broken Arrow. Soldiers also responded to at least five requests for emergency power in the state's northeastern region. Guard members provided fresh water to residents in Wikiupp and delivered more than 1,000 sandbags in Clatsop County.

The Kansas National Guard provided emergency power for water treatment facilities, sewer systems and shelters in at least two counties. Nearly 130,000 residents were without power, and the Guard was planning door-to-door wellness checks yesterday for affected residential areas. Guard units also delivered cots to Red Cross shelters and were planning observation flights to check on residents, which responders were unable to reach.

"We have seen a huge increase in requests for Guard support today," said Sharron Watson, a Kansas Guard spokeswoman. "Generator missions have been the biggest request, but we have also had our Guard members out clearing roadways in southeast Kansas."

The National Weather Service predicted lighter amounts of sleet, freezing rain and snow, but also reported the possibility of additional accumulations from another storm developing later in the week.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike R. Smith is assigned to the National Guard Bureau. Missouri National Guard Capt. Tammy Spicer contributed to this article.)

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