Belvoir Teams find missing person
January 6, 2012
After a 20-hour ground, water, and air search, the wife of a U.S. Army Soldier that lives on Fort Belvoir was found safe on post at approximately 2 p.m. Monday.
Military authorities at Belvoir said the woman is with her husband and being medically evaluated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
The Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula expressed appreciation to the Fort Belvoir community, Fairfax County emergency services, and the U.S. Coast Guard for their assistance in the search.
Fort Belvoir Law Enforcement as well as Fire and Emergency Services were first notified of the situation at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Belvoir police and FES personnel first went to the missing person's home in George Washington Village where it was reported that she was last seen. They did a cursory search of her home as well as the surrounding area before establishing a command post.
"The first command post was a combined command post at Surveyor and Soldier roads. We shutdown Surveyor and put all the equipment and light trucks right there," said Fort Belvoir Police Chief, Timothy Wolfe.
Lt. Col. Dwayne Bowyer, Commander, Headquarters Battalion was the acting Garrison Commander at the time the incident was reported. He said he gathered information for several hours before deciding he needed to go to the command site.
"As the acting Garrison Commander I decided to go to the site command post so I could get better information and see all the actions that were being taken place to make informed decisions on what we needed to do throughout the night," said Bowyer.
At no time was there any indication of foul play, officials said. Emergency personnel maintained the initial command post until 3 a.m. on Monday when they decided it was time to pull back due to darkness. They all reconvened at around 7:12 a.m. Monday in the Belvoir Community Center parking lot.
A command post was maintained there until the missing woman was found.
The efforts of Belvoir's emergency personnel as well as the outside organizations that became involved made Bowyer proud.
"I think they did a phenomenal job," said Bowyer. "Not just our personnel. It was really a well coordinated effort by the different organizations that got involved from the Fort Belvoir organizations and Fairfax County as well as the U.S. Coast Guard.
Fairfax County emergency services and the Coast Guard were called in because Wolfe said he wanted to exhaust every resource at his disposal.
"We tried everything we had available to us to make sure we found the young lady," said Wolfe.
FES provided the command post equipment which Wolfe said was tremendously helpful throughout the entire process.
"All of those guys are fantastic," said Wolfe. "They have all of the command post stuff and they use that stuff more then we do, so that's why when we go out to do something it's a combined effort. We work real well with the FES guys."
Bruce Wright, Fire Chief, 465 Battalion Chief, said he and his crew drew up maps of the areas that were being searched and marked them off as each search was completed.
"We didn't participate in the search," said Wright. "We were just staying in the primary search area with an engine and ambulance from FBCH just in case we found her in the woods we would have emergency personnel in place if she needed it."
About 100 Soldiers and other volunteers showed up at the initial command post. They were split up into groups of 10 and were led by a Belvoir police officer while they were out searching.
Belvoir's Enlisted Spouses Club brought coffee, water, chips and sandwiches to the community center on Monday for emergency personnel.
The outpour of support pleasantly surprised Wolfe.
"This community really came together for this," said Wolfe. "It wasn't just law enforcement and FES. We were the command post and we were running the show together. This is the first time in my three years here that I've seen this much community support for an incident like this."