By Maj. Jonathan Stafford (Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command )May 27, 2015
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (May 27, 2015) -- For Soldiers, defending the skies over Guam, those same skies recently became the enemy as Typhoon Dolphin pounded the island of Guam, May 15, with sustained 100 mph winds and gusts of up to 125 mph.
Guam is home to Task Force Talon, which has been defending the island from missile attacks for the past two years with the U.S. Army's first forward deployed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, battery. The task force is composed of Soldiers from air defense, signal, and infantry units, which came together as a team with their U.S. Air Force counterparts to quickly evacuate critical equipment from the unit's location on Site Armadillo in northwestern Guam.
The evacuation of mission critical equipment happened just hours before the typhoon struck. Task Force Talon Soldiers, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, who are deployed from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, provided convoy security. The convoy safely moved the equipment to storage locations, maintained by the 36th Munitions and the 36th Maintenance Squadrons, 36th Maintenance Group, 36th Wing, on Andersen Air Force Base.
"If not for the great support from the Air Force, the successful evacuation of the mission critical equipment would not have been possible," said 1st Sgt. Cedric Covington, first sergeant for Battery D, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
"We understand the important homeland defense mission that Task Force Talon executes and we try our best to support them anyway we can," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Chandralean Lozada, systems flight chief for the 36th Munitions Squadron.
The evacuation of the equipment was fortuitous, as the eye wall of the typhoon passed near Site Armadillo causing extensive damage to non-mission critical infrastructure and the surrounding vegetation.
"We had some minor damage to Site Armadillo, but were able to maintain security of sensitive items and materials throughout the typhoon without injury to any Soldiers," said Capt. Dan Stinnett, commander, Company B, 1-14th Infantry Regiment, who led a small security force team, which secured the site during the typhoon.
Within hours after the typhoon passed, Task Force Talon Soldiers were back on site clearing debris and repairing damage from the typhoon. Once the site was cleared, Soldiers, from Battery D, 2nd ADA, who are deployed from Fort Bliss, Texas, quickly emplaced their THAAD equipment and resumed their defense of Guam mission.
"As bad as the typhoon was, it brought out the best in the Task Force's Soldiers," said Sgt. Maj. Joel Gutierrez, sergeant major, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "The Soldiers worked extremely hard to clear the site of mission critical equipment and then quickly reestablished the site despite the damage from the typhoon."
As destructive as Typhoon Dolphin was, it helped to build strong bonds between U.S. Army and Air Force personnel on Guam.
"The support from Team Andersen was tremendous," said Lt. Col. Jefferey Slown, commander, Task Force Talon, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. "It is an honor to work with the many great professionals that make up the joint community here on Guam."
Typhoon season has not even officially started on Guam, but this is the second typhoon, which Task Force Talon has had to endure in the past two months. The strong storms that strike Guam can be destructive, but it will never break the confidence Task Force Talon Soldiers have in their training and the support from the joint community on Andersen Air Force Base.