Meeting some heroes here on the homefront

This is a bit of an unexpected, unplanned post, but something pretty cool happened to me tonight.

Out of the blue, and completely unexpectedly, a long-time reader (fan, maybe?) messaged me and said they would be passing through Knoxville and would love to meet up if I had a moment.

I have been tweeting and messaging with Joshua McGuoirk for years now, and it turned out that the Fire Battalion Chief from Philadelphia was passing through my city on his way to respond to Hurricane Ida, which is projected to hit Louisiana.

McGuoirk was just one of 90 strong from Pennsylvania Task Force 1. They are part of the National Urban Search & Rescue Response System, established under the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1989. Essentially, the federal government teams up with states to provide federal disaster response task forces.

McGuoirk said his task force was activated late last night (08/27/21), and after pre-mission work up and briefing, they rolled out at 0330 hours today, 08/28/21.

It was quite a convoy, which included 3 tractor-trailers, 2 box trucks, 2 vans with trailers, 4 pick-ups with trailers (including 2 gators), a command and control vehicle (suburban), and even a massive passenger bus (people mover).

McGuoirk said they take so many vehicles because with natural disasters, there typically is no infrastructure to support such a large group. And since the areas hit by a disaster have enough problems, the task force arrives completely self-sufficient. Essentially, they have enough food, water, shelter, comms, etc., for a minimum of 14 days. If necessary, he said they can stretch to 21 days before a resupply.

I learned a lot by talking with him, and my step-son (who currently wants to be a MLB player) was pretty impressed by these heroes he got to see heading toward harm’s way. When I told him I was running out to meet McGuoirk, and he could come with me and meet some firemen, he jumped up as excited as I’ve seen him in some time.

McGuoirk said the task force deployed when Hurricane Katrina hit and was deployed for 28 straight days. That was almost exactly 16 years ago and now the task force is headed back.

I know we have a lot of people in harm’s way in Afghanistan right now, but let’s remember we have first responders running toward approaching dangers right here at home, as well.

Thank you, Josh, for reaching out, and for all you and all the other first responders do!

Of course I had to hand out some books for the dead time on the drive there. By my math, they had at least a solid nine more hours on the road.

That’s it for this post. Stay safe and be kind. As always, please share this post if you enjoyed it.

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Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

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