Green Mountain Guard Year in Review 2020

TAG's Corner

You, directly or not, are a major reason Vermont remains among the safest states in the country in response to this pandemic.
You are a valued member of our team. I appreciate everything you do, and I hope that we can all look back at 2020 together as an example of the importance of resiliency.

Year in Review 2020

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 Response

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 Vermont Department of Health determines it is needed. If required, It can accommodate up to 200 patients. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez)

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.

COVID-19 Timeline of Events:

  • March 7: The Vermont Department of Health announces its first COVID-19 case.
  • March 13: Gov. Phil Scott declares a state of emergency and activates the Vermont National Guard to prepare for state active duty, beginning with five Airmen and two Soldiers. By March 24, a total of 48 Soldiers and Airmen are placed on state active duty.
  • March 23-27: Guardsmen construct medical surge facilities in Barre and St. Albans, each with a 50-bed capacity, a surge site at the University of Vermont with a 96-bed capacity, and a treatment and triage center at the UVM Medial Center Emergency Department, as Airmen support ongoing operations at the Strategic National Stockpile.
  • March 29: The 15 Civil Support Team starts supporting the Vermont Health Department's establishment of a COVID-19 test site in Putney with a team of 11 Soldiers and Airmen.
  • April 2-5: Soldiers and Airmen construct a 400-bed Alternate Healthcare Facility at the Chaplain Valley Exposition fairgrounds to augment the available resources of local hospitals. The AHF receives its first COVID patient April 10.
  • April 22-May 1: The Vermont National Guard distributes more than 160,000 meals, ready-to-eat, to communities suffering economically from the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a partnership with the Vermont Foodbank.
  • May 22: The 158th Fighter Wing conducts a 90-minute flyover of four F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters as a show of gratitude for health care professionals, first responders, and essential workers, as part of the Air Force's Operation America Strong.
  • May 29: The Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho resumes training after a suspension caused in part by the COVID pandemic.
  • July 20: A team of Airmen with the 158th Fighter Wing begins assembling enough COVID-19 test kits to ensure Vermont has a reserve of at least 20,000 kits.
  • Aug. 27: Airmen and Soldiers support operations at the Strategic National Stockpile warehouse to help Vermont reopen its public schools for the 2021 academic year.
  • Sept. 18: The 158th Fighter Wing team assembles its 50,000th COVID-19 test kit.
  • Nov. 19: The Vermont National Guard's COVID-19 Test Team moves its test facilities indoors and reactivates the Alternate Healthcare Facility, which remains in standby mode.
  • Nov. 30: Five Soldiers are assigned to begin COVID-19 vaccine support efforts.

State & Federal Missions

But while the Vermont Guard took on its new mission, it still had existing commitments to honor for its state and federal 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.

Outstanding Personnel

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.

In addition, four Soldiers represented the United States at the Biathlon Pre-World Cup in Austria Nov. 1: Spcs. Vaclav Cervenka and Sean Doherty from 1st Detachment, Garrison Support Command, Spc. Deedra Irwin from 86th Troop Command, and Spc. Leif Nordgren from Army Aviation. Capts. Ferne Ryder and Sarah Griffin were named to the All-Guard Marathon Team after placing seventh and 12th in the trial race in Omaha, Nebraska, Sept. 20.

Julie Shea, left, was recently named the U.S. Air National Guard's Outstanding Communication Civilian in the 2020 Air Force Public Affairs Communication Excellence Awards. Officer James Sides, right, was recently named Air National Guard security forces flight level civilian supervisor of the year for 2020. (U.S. Air Force photos/Senior Master Sgt. Michael Davis)
Capt. Sarah Griffin, officer candidacy school, 124th Regional Training Institute; Maj. Kurt Kafferlin, state judge advocate; and Capt. Ferne Ryder, officer candidacy school, 124th Regional Training Institute, Vermont National Guard, pose for a photo after completing the Lincoln Marathon in Omaha, Nebraska, Sept. 20, 2020. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Lisa Crawford)
The Vermont National Guard Biathlon Team Competes in the Chief, National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah, March 4. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo/Sgt. Gloria Kamencik)