December 14, 2021
By Jim Garamone , DOD News
National Guardsmen Deploying to Aid Tornado-Hit Kentucky
Nearly 500 personnel from the Kentucky National Guard have been called to duty to aid their fellow citizens affected by the tornadoes that hammered the state Dec. 10-11.
The unprecedented wave of tornadoes killed scores of people and spread damage over a wide area.
National Guardsmen are supplementing local and state emergency response personnel. "Roughly 80 of them [are assisting in] recovery support, another 50 for assisting the Department of Forestry with debris clearance," said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby during a news conference today.
In addition to National Guardsmen, members of the Army Corps of Engineers are also deploying to help those affected, Kirby said.
Military assets helped with aerial storm damage assessments. There are about 90 National Guard military police personnel helping along with 100 personnel providing traffic control.
The Corps of Engineers personnel are providing support for debris removal, critical public facilities, infrastructure assessments and for engineering and public works," he said. The Corps has also sent members of the 249th Engineer Battalion to the area to help provide temporary power to the recovery mission. The unit also has "additional subject matter experts to assist with generator staging assessments and installation."
Reporters asked Kirby about reports that the Air Force and Navy discharged some service members who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccines. The Air Force has discharged 27 members who refused the life-saving vaccine.
He noted there are very few service members who are in this position. "Just to put it in some perspective for you: Active duty personnel with at least one dose is now over 97 percent," he said. "Active duty personnel that are fully vaccinated stands at almost 91 percent. Of the total force, including reserves and the Guard with ... at least one dose, it's almost 90 percent with at least one dose. Fully vaccinated stands at just under 75 percent.
"So, the vast majority of our people ... are doing the right thing and did the right thing even before the vaccine was mandatory," Kirby said. "They're getting the shot. I think it's important to keep that perspective."
Kirby encouraged all who qualify, to get the booster shot. He said officials are debating whether to make the booster mandatory.
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