CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) – With the coming end of 2022, the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) looked back at their accomplishments over the year.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women representing our One Guard family who stepped up in 2022 to answer the call time and time again,” said Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the WVNG. “We celebrated success on a number of fronts to include international support, domestic response, emergency planning, retiree/veteran outreach, modernization and readiness. We are looking forward to delivering accomplishments in 2023 to the citizens of West Virginia as your National Guard.”
According to a WVNG release, significant WVNG accomplishments in 2022 include:
- More than 250 Soldiers and Airmen served overseas during 2022, including small unit deployments and exercise support for combatant commands, NATO and other foreign allies. In addition, Airmen from the WVNG deployed stateside to provide logistical and operational support for Operation Allies Welcome in early 2022.
- A number of WVNG units, both Army and Air National Guard, participated in exercises around the world to support allies and partners. Participating units include 167th Airlift Wing (Exercise Swift Response/Defender 22/Cold Response 22), 119th Sapper Engineer Company (Noble Partner 22 in the Republic of Georgia). 115th Engineer Company (Resolute Sentinel in Guatemala), and 63 Airmen and two aircraft from the 130th Airlift Wing participated in Exercise Agile Rage which marked the first time the unit’s new C-130J were used in an Air National Guard Readiness Exercise focused on decentralized command and control and distributed military operations.
- Through the State Partnership Program, members of the WVNG and additional subject matter experts provided Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) training for weapons of mass destruction/CBRN defense to members of the Qatari Armed Forces in preparation for and during the FIFA World Cup held in Qatar in late 2022.
- West Virginia and Peru celebrated the 25th anniversary of their partnership through the State Partnership Program. In addition, Members of the WVNG continued to work closely with Peruvian Armed Forces to provide subject matter expert exchanges in Peru and held their first key leader engagement post-Covid.
- A team of 30 WVNG Soldiers and Airmen representing the U.S. team finished 15th in the world’s largest international cyber defense exercise, Locked Shields 2022, run virtually by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence.
- Covid-19 response continued throughout 2022 with more than 550 Service Members providing support to the State of West Virginia. In early 2022, nearly 350 servicemembers were deployed into 30 hospitals around the state providing non-medical care duties to ensure hospital staff were able to focus on patient medical care.
- More than 300 Soldiers and Airmen provided staffing assistance to the West Virginia Department of Corrections, Regional Jail Authority and Division of Juvenile Services.
- Aviators with C. Co., 150th Assault Battalion, located in Wheeling, deployed to assist Fayette County Emergency Management and the U.S. National Park Service with aerial firefighting, marking the first time that the WVNG had been tasked to provide in-state domestic response for a wildland fire in state history.
- Fourteen Soldiers from Company C, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, and Company B, 1-224th Security and Support Aviation Battalion, deployed to Southeastern Kentucky in late July where they rescued more than twenty people and three pets during their combined 25 hours of flying.
- The WVNG continued its support to the National Capitol Region by providing more than 80 Soldiers to assist U.S. Capitol Police for security operations and 125 service members for security at the State of the Union address.
- On the cyber front, the WVNG and Marshall University announced the first WVNG Fellow at the MU Institute for Cyber Security. Through a partnership with the University of Charleston, the WVNG launched a pilot program to offer cyber training to cadets at the state’s two Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academies.
- The WVNG completed a whole of state exercise with the West Virginia Emergency Management Division (WVEMD) in October to ensure continuity, response capability and collaboration during emergencies.
- The West Virginia National Guard’s Company C, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, Aeromedical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Company, received its first of six new HH-60M “Mike” model Black Hawk helicopters from Sikorsky Aircraft.
- The WVARNG finished second overall nationwide in the Army National Guard Best Recruiting and Retention Competition for 2022 and first in the small state category.
- The 130th Airlift Wing flew 924 sorties, compiled 1342 flight hours, hauled 650 tons of cargo and transported 355 passengers in 2022. The Wing also received is 8th and final C-130J as a part of the conversion from H-model to J-model aircraft. Aircrews from the 167th AW flew 920 sorties, compiled 2,835 flight hours, hauled 4,772 tons of cargo and transported 4,576 passengers in 2022.
- The WVNG hosted its first Retiree Appreciation Day, welcoming more than 100 veterans and families throughout West Virginia to a program dedicated to veteran care.
- William Farkas, a former cadet at the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy in Montgomery, received an official appointment to The United States Military Academy at West Point as a part of the class of 2026, a first in MCA history.
- The WVNG Educational cap was raised to $9,000 a year, a $2,000 increase, effective Jan. 1, for servicemembers pursuing their post-secondary education at an approved West Virginia institution.
- Sgt. Jefferson Gwynn, a combat engineer with the 119th Engineer Co., competed in the 2022 All Guard Best Warrior Competition in Tennessee following his win at the WVNG’s Best Warrior Competition.
- The Jobs & Hope WV – WorkForce WV Employment Program (JHWEP), was launched in May with a purpose of offering subsidized job placement. JHWEP has more than 31 employer orientations, 16 employers/participants matched, and grants allocated to employers totaling more than $300,000.
- Jobs & Hope and Patriot Guardens, a Military Authority program, trained 17 participants in their Lawn and Landscape Technician Course as well as establishing an agriculture-based business incubator in Dunbar, partnering with with KISRA. It is utilized for training on infrastructure including two year-round commercial greenhouses, 40+ raised beds, 40-bird chicken coop, food safety certified processing and packaging space, and cold storage.
- The Future Leaders Program has grown since it was established in 2019 to encompass 15 different high schools in eight counties. The 2022 FLP regional champions, determined after a day full of skills testing, were Brook County High for North Region and Buffalo High School for South Region.