It was a windy, snowy day – and night – for some Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers who patrolled state roadways and aided a stranded vehicle as part of the Guard’s response to a strong winter storm Feb. 20-21.
Four Soldiers and two tactical vehicles from the Wisconsin National Guard armory in Hayward, Wis., were dispatched Friday to assist a stranded motorist four miles north of Hayward on Highway 63. Civilian tow trucks were unable to reach the vehicle.
Thursday night, six Soldiers and three vehicles – a light medium tactical vehicle, medium tactical vehicle and a military wrecker – from the armory in Spooner, Wis., assisted the Wisconsin State Patrol by conducting a health and welfare patrol at waysides by Chetek, Wis., and New Auburn, Wis., on Route 14.
According to Staff Sgt. Ray Heilman, the winter force package noncommissioned officer in charge at Spooner, the motorists at the waysides Thursday night required no emergency assistance.
“We checked to make sure they had heat and food and some kind of shelter,” Heilman said.
The military convoy moved at a deliberate 10 miles per hour in the snow and strong winds, which made for a slow but safe patrol.
“The nice thing is this is a lot like what we do on route clearance,” said Heilman, a platoon sergeant in the 950th Engineer Company. “We go real slow and look.”
This was the first time Soldiers at the Spooner armory were called to serve as a winter force package, which is a predetermined set of Soldiers and vehicles or equipment based on skills, availability and location.
“We were excited to get a mission and execute,” Weilman said. “Stuff like this makes us better at what we do.”
Approximately 150 Soldiers were called to state active duty after Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Feb. 19 in advance of the storm. About 70 percent of the winter force packages were staged in northwest Wisconsin.