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Indiana National Guard Responds to Deadly Tornado

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2005 – More than 150 Indiana Army and Air National Guard troops remained on state active duty today supporting recovery operations after the devastating tornado that roared through the southwestern part of the state early Nov. 6.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Sgt. Elvin Streets (foreground) from the Indiana Army National Guard's Battery B, 1st Battalion, 163rd Field Artillery, and a fellow Guardsman search through debris left in the wake of a deadly Nov. 6 tornado that hit southwestern Indiana. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Whitler Jr., USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The Guard troops, most of whom already were on duty for weekend drills when the tornado struck at about 2 a.m., responded immediately, said Army Capt. Lisa Kopczynski, Indiana National Guard public affairs officer.

About 80 members of the Jaspar-based 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment, are focusing on security duty, assisting local law enforcement workers and helping manage the site, Kopczynski said.

In addition, 50 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 163rd Field Artillery, from Evansville, and five Air Guardsmen from the 181st Fighter Wing from Terre Haute are supporting search and recovery efforts at the site, she said.

Others are serving in the Joint Operations Center and state Emergency Management Agency in Indianapolis, Kopczynski said.

The tornado, the deadliest to hit the state in more than 30 years, stretched for about 20 miles and cut a swath about three-quarters of a mile wide along the Indiana-Kentucky border, American Red Cross officials reported. At least 22 people were reported dead and hundreds more were injured.

The Indiana Guard is well-practiced in disaster response. Following Hurricane Katrina, more than 2,400 Indiana Army and Air Guard members deployed to the Gulf Coast to provide medical, transportation, logistics and aviation support, Kopczynski said.

"This is what the Guard is all about," she said. "The Indiana National Guard is all about helping the citizens of our state and nation. They're your hometown citizens - your doctors, your lawyers, your teachers - who will drop everything when needed to protect their fellow citizens and defend their nation in its time of need." While the Indiana Guard serves at home on state active duty under Gov. Mitch Daniels' direction, almost 1,800 Indiana Guard members are on federal active duty supporting the global war on terror, Kopczynski said.

More than 1,500 Indiana Army and Air Guard troops are deployed overseas supporting that effort. They include the 113th Engineer Battalion, the 938th and 939th Military Police Detachments and A Company, 138th Signal Company, all deployed to Iraq.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageIndiana National Guardsmen provide relief after a tornado devastated the southwestern part of the state Nov. 6. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Whitler Jr., USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePfc. Christopher Dixon from the Indiana Army National Guard's Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 163rd Field Artillery, surveys a destroyed vehicle left in the swath of a Nov. 6 tornado. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Whitler Jr., USA  
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