Green Mountain Guard June - September 2020

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez

In This Issue:

Message From TAG


It's been a busy summer as our Air and Army National Guard have successfully balanced both their state and federal missions. We worked with our state partners to distribute 3.2 million meals to thousands of Vermonters, our testing sites continue to play a critical role in giving the Governor the data necessary to begin to re-open the economy and schools, and our work supporting test kit assembly and Strategic National Stockpile warehouse have been a huge success.

At the same time, Airmen from the 158th Fighter Wing are preparing to begin individual and small group deployments, leaving as early as this month through November. Meanwhile, 3-172nd Infantry Battalion (MTN) and the 172nd Military Police Detachment are ramping up for their departures in just a few months and hundreds more of our Soldiers are preparing for their deployments later in 2021.

All of this demonstrates our readiness to respond when called, and no surprise to me, we have answered that call. Our members and their families are the backbone of our readiness, and we cannot achieve our mission without you. In response to the national conversation examining systemic racism, we held a series of town halls focused on what we can do locally. We continue to work on the recommendations from the Military Women’s Workshop held in November 2019 and are awaiting the results of the Organizational Assessment I initiated last spring. All of this to ensure that we are shaping the Vermont National Guard to attract and retain the best people now and in the future.

Put the Vermonters Ahead!

COVID-19 Relief Update

Food Distribution

Since distribution was initiated in April, the VTNG has distributed over 3 million meals to families all across Vermont and continues to do so.

Alternative Healthcare Facility Test Kits

Many people have been wondering what happened to the alternative healthcare facilities, following their dismantling. The Saint Albans Messengers, Mike Nosek, did a fantastic write up on the facilities. Their article can be found below.

PPE Assembly

On July 17, Johansen and his team of nine, volunteered for a request from the Vermont Health Department to support the assembly and distribution of COVID-19 test kits, which had previously been processed by the labs themselves. Since that day, the team has assembled over 40,000 kits, freeing the labs to focus on processing tests more efficiently.

Their efforts contributed directly to the State’s ability to conduct over 16,000 tests from Aug. 21-29, as announced by Vermont Governor Phil Scott, who has stated that widespread testing is critical to gathering the data necessary to safely reopen the State’s economy, as well as schools on Sept. 8.

Assembly of PPE for distribution. Photos by Capt. J. Scott Detweiler

COVID-19 Sampling

The VTNG in conjunction with the state have collected over 18,800 samples so far and continue to do so. #AllInThisTogether

Joint Programs

Racism Town Halls

There is #NoRoomForRacism, not in the Vermont National Guard not anywhere. Following the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, TSgt Kirby Addison took initiative in starting conversations around the impact of systemic racism. The VTNG held three town halls, allowing service members to come together to civilly and earnestly engage in these difficult conversations. These conversations will continue because that is the only way to ensure every member knows they are a valued part of the team.

Photos by Maj. J. Scott Detweiler taken at the Racism Town halls held on, June 26th July 1st and July 8th, 2020.


the Vermont National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Office lead a socially distanced in-person and virtual campaign, aimed at increasing awareness and building a culture of engaged intervention to prevent future sexual violence.

Events were held from Tuesday through Friday with the SAPR team bringing together more than 70 personnel from both the Vermont Air and Army National Guards to engage in difficult, but critical, conversations.

“These conversations can be difficult,” admitted Lazelle. “But even in just the last few years I’ve seen more people willing to engage and discover ways that they themselves can get involved and prevent sexual assault or harassment.” - Christina Lazelle, JFHQ SARC

Photos by Maj. J. Scott Detweiler taken at the VTNG's #NotJustApril Events.

Army Updates

Best Warrior Competition

The Vermont Army National Guard hosted the regional Best Warrior Competition at the Ethan Allen Firing Range on August 15th, and 16th! Soldiers from 7 states had to complete a multitude of tasks, to include; The Army Combat Fitness Test, individual weapons qualification, multiple warrior tasks, and a 12 mile ruck march with a stress shoot.

The Vermont Army National Guard hosted the Region One Best Warrior Competition at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont, August 14-16. The New York Army National Guard took the top spot in both the Non-Commissioned Officer and Enlisted categories.
SSG Mathew Ortiz, New York Army National Guard (left) took first place in the Non-Commissioned Officer division. Cpl. Troy Perez, New York Army National Guard, took first place in the enlisted division. (Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez, 172nd PAD, VTARNG)
Aviation Rescue

On Friday August 14, 2020, Troopers were asked to respond to the Spruce Mountain trail head in the town of Plainfield to provide assistance to first responders who were already on scene with a female who had fallen from the fire tower on top of the mountain earlier in the day. At approximately 11:43, Waterbury Backcountry, Barre Town Fire Department, Plainfield Fire and Rescue, and East Montpelier Fire Department responded to the fire tower to assist the female who had fallen two flights of stairs down the tower while trying to capture a video of the view. After making contact and assessing the females medical status, first responders contacted the National Guard and requested a helicopter rescue to safely remove her from the mountain. The female was safely hoisted into the helicopter and transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center to be seen for her injuries.

-Video by 2nd Lt. Nathan Rivard

This event happened soon after Soldiers had completed hoist training with Black Hawk helicopters at Camp Johnson, Colchester, Vermont on Aug. 7, 2020. Due to consistent upkeep and readiness, the VTNG stands ready, wherever, whenever!

Change of Command: 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team - Mountain

On July 19th, 2020, "...We say goodbye to Col. Lord who served as commander of the 86th IBCT during a critical time; His leadership brought the 86th IBCT to a higher level of achievement earning the brigade a reputations as one of the best IBCT's in the Army." - Brig. Gen, David Manfredi.

The 86th IBCT (MTN) is compromised of the 3rd Battalion 172nd infantry, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Squadron 172nd Cavalry, and the 186th Brigade Support Battalion in Vermont. 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry in Connecticut, 1st Battalion 101 Field Artillery in Massachusetts (one battery is located in Vermont) and the 1st Battalion 157 Infantry in Colorado. All of these battalions fall under the command of the 86th IBCT (MTN)

Meet Your Guard: ARMY

PV2 Jesse McCoy graduated from his Advanced Individual Training just a few months ago, and has been helping support Vermont Emergency Management with food distributions since they began in April. Needless to say, he's been making the most of first months with The National Guard, and clearly it's had an impact on him too. #inthistogeher 1st Squadron 172nd Cavalry Regiment


June - September 2020

Congratulations to everyone who received promotions between June and September! Your hard work has been noted, and your diligence has been acknowledged!

(Please note, the following promotions are promotions from the shown rank to the next rank.)

Air Updates

Distance Training with Senegal

Across the span of three days in July, the Vermont Air National Guard partnered with the Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., to host the first-ever, entirely virtual engagement with any African Military Education Program (AMEP) school in Africa: a course on professional military education (PME) and continuing education for Senegalese Air Force instructors, July 16, 2020, South Burlington, Vt. Attendees called in from Alabama, Vermont, Senegal and Djibouti to participate in the virtual workshops designed to ensure the continued skills development of Airmen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

(Story and Photos by Miss Julie M. Shea)

Beyond The Uniform

There are so many stories of the outstanding individuals who make-up the Vermont National Guard. This new series, BeyondTheUniform, will help you get to know the people who proudly wear our uniforms.

Meet Airmen Abass Kallon of the Vermont Air National Guard and listen to his incredible story of how he came from Sierra Leone to the United States.

-Video by Senior Master Sgt. Michael Davis and Julie Shea

Operation: Northern Lightning
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. Airmen, aircraft and support equipment from the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard, began departing on August 3rd to train at the Volk Field Air National Guard base, Wis. This two-week exercise, known as Northern Lightning, will be conducted in a joint training environment, which places emphasis on the integration of 4th generation aircraft, like the F-18 Hornet, and 5th generation aircraft, like the F-35 Lightning II. Photos by Julie Shea

If you want to read more information about Operation Northern Lighting, check out the following writeups on DVIDS.

“We just flew the thousandth F-35 sortie for the Vermont Air National Guard. It’s a big deal and I’m proud to be a part of the Green Mountain Boys. I’m very fortunate to be here,” said Lt. Col. John “Rocky” MacRae, whose jet was launched by dedicated crew chief, Staff Sgt. Nick Eddy of the 158th Maintenance Group, Vermont Air National Guard.

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT. - More than 70 Airmen from the 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont Air National Guard will deploy starting in September 2020 for up to six months to multiple locations.

Airmen will deploy in small groups throughout the fall in support of U.S. Air Force Central Command (AFCENT), U.S. Air Force Africa Command (AFRICOM) and U.S. Air Force European Command (EUCOM).

“The women and men of our Air Guard will experience great developmental opportunities down range,” said Col. Adam T. Rice, 158th Fighter Wing vice commander. “They get to put their years of training and hard work to use in a very practical way, in support of not only the U.S. Air Force and our allies, but of our country as a whole.”

Meet Your Guard: AIR FORCE

Airmen Logan Abell, with the 158th Communications Flight, Vermont Air National Guard, is part of a team assembling #COVID19 testing kits for the Vermont Department of Health. All part of Governor Phil Scott's plan to reopen the state and schools safely! Check back later in the week for a full story on all they've been doing - #InThisTogether


June - September 2020

Congratulations to everyone who received promotions between June and September! Your hard work has been noted, and your diligence has been acknowledged!

(Please note, the following promotions are promotions from the shown rank to the next rank.)