Martin C. Evans

Posts Tagged ‘National Guard’

LI Armories, Reserve Centers to Close, Consolidate in Farmingdale

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 at 9:31 am

A $93 million facility that will allow National Guard, Army and Marines facilities to consolidate their operations at a single Long Island location opens in Farmingdale this morning – one year late and $7 million over its announced cost in 2007.

The facility on Route 110 just south of Republic Airport, will result in relocating operations from closing National Guard armories in Bay Shore, Huntington Station, Patchogue, Freeport and Riverhead, and Army and Marine Reserves centers in Uniondale and Amityville.

Military proponents say the consolidation will streamline the emergency mobilization of military assets whose operations and chains of commands are spread out across Long Island, and save millions in the cost of renovating and maintaining separate facilities.

But there has been some grumbling that removing military units from communities could leave them more vulnerable in case a hurricane or other large-scale emergency brought with it the need for immediate help in isolated villages and towns.

What do you think of this consolidation? Please post your comments, or contact me at 516 313-2906.


NY Guard Compiling Soldiers’ Stories

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

In the memories of the 6,000 New York Guard troops who have served in battle since 9/11 reside tales of courage and cowardice, determination and despair, loneliness and loss.

Now, Guard officials want those soldiers to contribute their personal accounts and photographs to a digital archive of the New York Army National Guard’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan since NY Guard troops were first sent there in the winter of 2003.


Members of the NY Guard's "Fighting 69th," during a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan.




Dubbed “Remember My Service,” the project is financed by the National Guard Bureau and is designed to help gather detailed historic information for inclusion in Army National Guard official records.

The Guard will send e-mails to current and former Guard soldiers who served active duty beginning in the winter of 2003, including more than 300 Long Islanders. The e-mails will urge soldiers to submit photos and personal stories on line and in person during project meetings at selected armories around New York.

While all deployed units will be included in the project, it is being built around specific units, including  the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry (“Fighting 69th and Task Force Wolfhound”), which deployed in Iraq in 2005, and Guard aviation units, including the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, based at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

Veterans wishing to participate can register at A link to this site can be found at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website at

The project will be run in part by Story Rock, a Utah-based company specializing in collecting and organizing archival information. Story Rock has already completed similar projects for  Guard units in other states and  some active duty Army units.

The stories will be compiled on commemorative compact discs, which are scheduled for release during ceremonies at armories around New York in May 2011. They will also be included in the Guard’s archives at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, and in the  National Guard Bureau’s national archives.


Last Vietnam War pilot retires from NY Guard

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 at 10:57 am

The New York National Guard lost its last remaining Vietnam War helicopter jockey, when Chief Warrant Officer Herb A. Dargue, the grandson of one of the U.S. military’s first pilots, retired today.

Here is what I wrote in today’s Newsday.

Chief Warrant Officer Herb A. Dargue represents the end of the line, both for the New York Army National Guard and for the Dargue family itself.

The veteran helicopter pilot, a hale man of 62 whose retirement Friday ends a military career that began in the 1960s, is the last Vietnam War pilot still flying for the New York Guard.

The Brookhaven resident is also the last pilot in a family whose aviation roots reach to the dawn of military flight.

CW4 Herbert A. Dargue, at the 3-142 Assault Helicopter Battalion Headquarters Ronkonkoma. (Charles Eckert photo)

“I’m very proud of my grandfather,” said Dargue, who flies Blackhawks with the Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation unit, based in Ronkonkoma. “He was at the very beginning of military flight.”

His grandfather, Maj. Gen. Herbert A. Dargue, flew two-seat biplanes during General Pershing’s 1916 pursuit of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Two years earlier, he was the first pilot to use a radio in flight.

CWO Dargue’s career as a helicopter pilot began with the muscular enthusiasm of youth 43 years ago in Vietnam, a 20-year-old Army airman dodging death at the controls of a multimillion-dollar aircraft. Dargue does not want it to end with a whimper – a retirement party, handshakes from colleagues, a final goodbye.

“I’m looking for a job,” said Dargue, of Brookhaven, whose last flight with the Guard is scheduled for this morning. “Flying is in my blood.”

Flying is also amply represented on his resume.

Other pilots express astonishment at his more than 20,000 hours at the controls.

After flying combat missions in the Mekong Delta, Dargue left the Army in 1969 to work as a helicopter pilot, ferrying traffic reporters above Washington, D.C., for a capital radio station. Later he provided helicopter training for the Iranian military, from 1977 to 1979 when the overthrow of the shah forced Dargue to flee. He joined the Guard in 1980 while keeping his day job as a corporate pilot based in New York. But in 2005, Dargue found himself again in a combat zone, when his unit was deployed to Iraq.

An amazing career

“I don’t know anyone with 20,000 hours in helicopters,” said Richard Schmitt, of Danbury, Conn., who flew corporate choppers for 40 years, before retiring in 1999. “It represents an amazing career in helicopters. I probably have 1,700 or 2,000 hours, which is very respectable in military aviation.”

Schmitt, 67, who also flew helicopters in Dargue’s Guard unit, described Dargue as a low-key professional whose experience has steeled fellow Guardsmen.

“He’s not a flash dancer, so to speak – he’s rock-steady Herb,” Schmitt said. “I think the example that he sets rubs off on others – keeping your head and doing the job with very little fanfare.”

His calm demeanor probably saved his life on at least four occasions, when he went down while flying helicopters whose power quit.

Each time, he coolly used the helicopter’s own downward momentum to power the rotor and steer himself to safety, including once when he had to weave between buildings to set down in a Long Island City parking lot.

“He’s an aviator’s aviator,” said Keshner, 66, of Great Neck, who flew up from his Florida winter home to attend Dargue’s Champagne-doused send-off Friday. “He’s the end of an era for all the Vietnam guys.”

Deployments boost emotional disorder likelihood among military wives.

In Women on January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan boost the likelihood of emotional disorders among wives who are left behind, according to a study in the Jan. 14 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The wives of deployed soldiers report higher rates of depression, sleeplessness, stress and adjustment disorders, according to researchers with the epidemiology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Longer deployments resulted in a greater likelihood of mental disorders.

The findings bolster observations made by therapists at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Rosen Family Wellness Center, who say worry over the safety of their spouse, loneliness and the added pressure of caring for children and maintaining a household on their own exacts a big emotional toll from military spouses.

The findings could be particularly significant to families associated with Long Island-based National Guard and Reserve units that have served combat tours, such as the 2/25th Marine the 800th Military Police Brigade, and companies of the 69th Infantry Regiment.

That is because Guard and Reserve units generally lack access to the kind of large military bases where there is an abundance of support services and social networks available to help military spouses cope – supports that are more available to families living on big military bases such as Ft. Drum, N.Y. or Ft. Hood, Texas.

In reaching their conclusions, researchers studied the outpatient medical records of 250,626 wives of Army soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The women had received care between 2003 and 2006.

Wives whose husbands were deployment for more than 11 months were nearly 40 percent more likely to report excess depression, about a quarter more likely to report sleeplessness and almost 20 percent more likely to show extreme anxiety.

106th Air Guard at Gitmo to help Haiti

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Members of the NY Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based at Westhampton Beach, have been diverted from a scheduled training mission in Cuba to help with the Haiti relief effort.

The 37 members of the Guard’s Civil Engineer Squad had planned to spend two weeks helping with construction upgrades at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.

Instead, they have been providing engineering and logistical support from Cuba for Guantanamo’s Haiti relief operations, since arriving at the naval station Jan. 16.

The 7.0 magnitude quake killed an estimated 200,000 Haitians and left millions homeless.

“One of our members is Haitian and still has family there,” Major David Carrick said in an e-mail sent from Guantanamo.

Guantanamo Bay is serving as a hub for U.S. personnel bound into and out of Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response, the Pentagon’s rescue and relief mission for Haiti.

Coast Guard medivac helicopters began ferrying wounded individuals from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince to Guantanamo at dawn the morning after the earthquake.

Women vets don’t get same welcome home

In Uncategorized, Women on December 15, 2009 at 12:16 am

Female GIs at Baghram Airbase, near the deadly Pakistan border. All of them are carrying rifles.

Women soldiers who return from combat aren’t treated with the same honor and respect as men are, even though women  serve as turret gunners, convoy drivers and other shot-at positions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That has left many women returning from war zones feeling rejected and depressed once their battlefield service is up, according to an Associated Press article.

“People didn’t come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way,” Sgt. Kayla Williams, 34,  told the Associated Press.  “They didn’t give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back.”

Joanne Lombardi, of Miller Place, a volunteer who helps wounded veterans, said women soldiers are often overlooked because combat traditionally has been associated with men.

“I’ve made the same mistake myself,” Lombardi said. “You see a woman in a restaurant with a group of soldiers and assume she is a wife or a girlfriend — not a soldier herself.”

Some female veterans say even male colleagues with whom they built strong soldier-to-soldier relationships while deployed shun them once they come home, often because spouses or girlfriends are suspicious of their professional closeness.

Isolation from colleagues  leaves war veterans more vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxieties, say psychological social workers at the Rosen Family Wellness Center, a treatment center for returning soldiers.  Lack of recognition also denies female veterans the social networks men enjoy, making it harder for them to find jobs and transition back to civilian life.

Many female vets have said they have come to doubt the value of their own service, and have not sought veterans services as frequently as men.

“What worries me is that women themselves still don’t see themselves as veterans, so they don’t get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women,” said Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee. “So we still have a long way to go.”

More than 185,000 women have been deployed since the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to a Dec. 5 resolution in Congress honoring women in the military. In all, 350,000 women currently are serving in the military.

Eighteen months or 18 years?

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Karzai (in hat), or Obama (in frustration): Who's prediction will be best on Afghanistan?

I wonder which president, Obama or Karzai, will be closer to right about how long it will be before U.S. troops can leave Afghanistan.

If it is the Afghan president and not the American one, expect Long Island units that have recently returned from war to have to go back again and again and again.

This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it would be 15 to 20 years before his country could afford to field the kind of military needed to keep the country from disintegrating into chaos.

“For a number of years, maybe for another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan would not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources,” Karzai said during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Bill Gates Dec. 8 in Kabul.

Gates later said he was surprised by Karzai’s estimate.

But if Karzai is right, it will be a minimum of 165 months before U.S. troops would be fully free to leave Afghanistan, according to the most conservative estimate of the guy Afghans “elected” to run the place.

That’s a lot longer than what President Barack Obama implied in a speech two weeks ago before cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, when he said the U.S. would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in 18 months.

A lengthly U.S. involvement increases the likelihood that Long Island-based National Guard and Reserve units, including the 69th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion,/25th Marine Reserve, will be sent back to the battlefield. The two units returned from combat deployments earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the guy appointed to run the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, indicates he also thinks it may be a long while before American troops come home.

McChrystal told Congress last week that the U.S. must persuade the Taliban U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan for a long time if we are to reverse their momentum there – momentum that has resulted in more U.S. casualties in Afghanistan this year than ever before.

Talk of a long commitment in Afghanistan is not sitting well with top Democrats in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Wisconsin congressman David Obey, who also wields big-time influence as chair of the purse-strings-controlling House Appropriations Committee, are key players who have given voice to a broad unease with the war among Congressional Democrats.

Last year’s Democratic Party surge gained much of its momentum from voter disillusionment with the war.

“Afghan Idol”

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm

"Afghan Star" is a wildly popular reality show among younger Afghans. But religious extremists say you had better sing good.

With America in a multi, multi-billion-dollar war to build democracy in a country  Americans know virtually nothing about, an Oscar-nominated film offers the possibility of learning about the scope of the challenge while munching on overpriced popcorn.

The British documentary Afghan Star tells the story of an Afghan must-see-tv reality show of the same name that is both widely popular among younger Afghans, and hugely controversial among the country’s opinionated and often dangerously-armed religious conservatives.

Think “American Idol,” only the Taliban get to behead the contestants if they don’t like their songs.

The film, running now in Los Angeles theaters but expected to soon hit screens in New York, is an entry for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

A Los Angeles Times review raved about the film’s examination of the Afghan reality show as a marker of the potential change American troops have spent eight years trying to bring about in Afghanistan.

“The show also makes a huge statement for Afghans by bringing together contestants of different tribal ethnicities as well as allowing the participation of several female contestants, a big deal in a country that is essentially run by a male-dominated tribal elder system.”

But with America about to send 30,000 more troops and spend another $100 billion there next year, the film also demonstrates how difficult it has been and will be to bring change to a largely illiterate Afghanistan of ethnic division, xenophobic suspicion and geographic isolation.

Military must treat stressed GIs, Vets advocate says

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Leaders of the 10th Mountain Division at upstate Ft. Drum are not doing enough to make sure soldiers of the  get adequate treatment from emotional trauma related to deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, says the director of Citizen Soldier, a New York City-based veterans advocacy organization.

Tod Ensign, the organization’s director, cites the alleged May 11, 2009 murder of five soldiers at Camp Liberty, Iraq by Sgt. John Russell, of Sherman, Texas, as an example of how a lack of adequate psychological help endangers U.S. troops. He says there also have been two suspected suicides and a murder involving psychologically-stressed Ft. Drum personnel in separate incidents this year alone.

“General Terry, I am concerned that the incidents outlined above reveal a disturbing pattern of malfeasance and/or negligence toward mentally stressed soldiers at Ft Drum,” Ensign wrote in an open letter to Major General James Terry, Commander of the 10th Mountain Division.

Last month, the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System announced an arrangement with Ft. Drum command staff under which LIJ would send a neuropsychologist to help military health workers at the fort treat soldiers suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorders.

Guard kids of deployed parents suffer more

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

A C-130 transport with the 106th Air Rescue unit being prepared for takeoff. The 106th has stationed rescue troops in Afghanistan several times this year. Newsday photo

Teens from military families, especially National Guard and others who don’t live on a military base, suffer more emotional stress and behavioral issues than other American youth, a Rand Corporation study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded.

Researchers found that across all age groups, children from military families reported significantly higher levels of emotional difficulties than children in the general population. Children whose caregiver also struggled emotionally and children in their teens were the most troubled.

The findings, published Dec. 7, are particularly significant to the large numbers of Army and Air Force National Guard troops on Long Island who have made multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Long Island does not have large military bases that elsewhere provide emotional and material support to troops.

Last year, troops deployed from several Long-Island based Guard or Reserve units, including the Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Battalion/142 Aviation unit, the  2nd Battalion/25th Marine Reserve Regiment and the 106th Air Rescue Wing.

Nationwide, about 2 million U.S. children had a parent in either the active or reserve component of the military in 2009.

The Rand Corporation studied 1,500 children from military families across the country.

About one-third of them reported symptoms of anxiety, somewhat higher than the percentage reported in other studies of children.