These Farm Boys Could Fight!
77 Years Since Guadalcanal
On Oct. 13 1942, a group of “farm boys from North Dakota” landed on the beach at Guadalcanal, destined to become the first U.S. Army unit to offensively engage the enemy during World War II. N.D. Army National Guard’s 164th Infantry Regiment, supplemented by U.S. Army draftees as well as National Guard fillers from other states, reinforced the 1st Marine Division in the defense of the tactical air strip that was later named Henderson Field by U.S. forces. This campaign was part of Operation Watchtower. The first U.S. Soldier to be killed during WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor was Cpl. Kenneth S. Foubert, 164th Infantry Regiment, when he arrived on Guadalcanal. Top photo: Vice Adm. Robert Ghormley, Maj. Gen. Ernest Harmon, and Maj. Gen. Alexander Patch inspect 164th Infantry Regiment Soldiers on a U.S. Navy transport at Noumea, New Caledonia bound for Guadalcanal, October 1942.
The Japanese Imperial Navy welcomed the newcomers throughout the night with 14-inch artillery shells that shredded palm trees to toothpicks and left holes the size of basements. The Regiment lost its first soldier that very first day and, as word spread, the Guardsmen quickly learned the realities of war. Just 12 days later, the 164th would fight alongside the Marines in what was officially called the Second Battle for Henderson Field, but was unofficially called The Battle of Coffin Corner because of the thousands of enemy dead that were buried there. Capt. Al Wiest, of the 164th, overheard Marine Lt. Col. Chesty Puller comment "Those farm boys can fight, I can tell you that much." This was the first major offensive by Allied forces against Japan.
The 119th Wing Chaplain’s office hosted Irish special forces veteran and subject of the book "About Face: Finding Peace Within the Battle", John Corcoran, as a guest speaker at the N.D. Air National Guard Base dining facility in Fargo Oct. 17. Corcoran provided an inspirational account of how spiritual faith gave him the strength to rebuild his resiliency following his combat experiences in Southwest Asia. Book author Bethany Barnett joined Corcoran and made introductory comments.
The 119th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management functional area conducted chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) defense training for unit members at the N.D. Air National Guard Base in Fargo, during the Oct. 5 and 6 unit training assembly. CBRNE training includes protective measures taken in situations in which chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare (including terrorism) hazards may be present.
Instructors from emergency management trained personnel to survive and operate in a hazardous environment in a deployed location, as well as home station, utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE), commonly called chem gear.
Training stations were dedicated for various aspects of CBRNE training. The stations included post-attack reconnaissance (PAR) training, proper wear of the PPE, protection of assets using plastic covering, and zone transition point training, which is a limited decontamination process. PAR training teaches and refreshes unit members’ ability to quickly assess exposure to contamination following an attack.
Photo: From left, Master Sgt. Adam Krueger, Lt. Col. Steve Larson and Master Sgt. Joe Fluge wear their PPE while participating in CBRNE training,
PAR teams are deployed to potential contaminated zones to determine contamination exposure and type, and to look for unexploded ordnance and injured personnel.
The PPE worn for possible chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive attack is also used for HAZMAT incidents that may happen in man-made accidents or natural occurring events.
CBRNE training is a recurring requirement for all N.D. Air National Guard members in order to be ready to execute their missions anywhere in the world, in any hazardous condition.
Master Sgt. Jason Dewar, 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, teaches post attack reconnaissance techniques and procedures to unit members during unit training assembly at Air National Guard Base, Fargo Oct. 6.