GUARDSMEN VOLUNTEER TO HELP NEIGHBORS SEARCH FOR PERSONAL EFFECTS
WASHINGTON, IL (11/22/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 15 Illinois National Guard Soldiers with the 5th Civil Support Team (CST) in Bartonville, Ill., took leave for two days Nov. 19 to 20 to volunteer to help residents of Washington, Ill., search for personal effects,.
"I joined the National Guard to help out in situations like this," said Sgt. Kevin Engelken of Mapleton, Ill, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer with the 5th CST. "It was extremely rewarding to help but I hope I never have to again. But, if I'm ever needed I would volunteer again in a heartbeat."
Soldiers assisted residents and neighbors searching for valuables and personal effects left behind in the rubble after a tornado swept through the area Nov. 17.
One resident had lost his daughter a while back and the only thing left of hers was photographs, said Capt. Christopher Young of Morton, Ill., a medical operations officer with the 5th CST.
"We tore down a couple walls and found a photo album behind one with her photos," said Young. "It was kind of emotional."
Some residents had little or no help when the off-duty Soldiers arrived.
"At one house both residents were in the hospital and their only son was on his way from California," said Officer Candidate Martin Anderson of East Peoria, Ill., a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer with the 5th CST. "We tried to help find the valuables and sort through the effects."
The 5th CST is a team of approximately 20 Soldiers trained to work with civilian responders in the event of a nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) attack. While the 5th CST was not officially called to respond it made it easy to volunteer, because their full-time mission is so closely related, said Young.
"We were glad to help where we could, but there is still tons of work left, as far as you can see," said Anderson.
Photo Caption: (Left to right) Sgt. Kevin Engelken of Mapleton, Ill., Senior Master Sgt. Matt Miller of Morton, Ill., and Officer Candidate Martin Anderson of East Peoria, Ill., all assigned to the Illinois National Guard's 5th Civil Support Team in Bartonville, Ill., took leave Nov. 19 to 20 to help residents of Washington, Ill., recover personal effects from the debris field caused by a tornado that swept through the area Nov. 17. (Submitted photo)
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