Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Salute to the Massachusetts National Guard

Today we had the honor and privilege of hearing Lt. Col. James Sahady of the Massachusetts National Guard speak to my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

Lt. Col. Sahady drove down this morning from eastern Massachusetts and arrived early to my 9:30AM class. He has 25 years of experience with the Massachusetts National Guard and his lecture was fascinating.

We learned that the Massachusetts National Guard is the oldest military organization in the United States, dating back to 1636 and that the US military began in Salem, Massachusetts (the first muster).

He spoke about the Massachusetts National Guard's organization, the numerous operations that it has been involved in over the past few years with vivid examples and photos of such recent disasters as the June 1, 2011 tornado, the tropical storm (Hurricane Irene that hit us in late August) , and the Halloween snowstorm that knocked out power for many for days. The Guard called this operation Harvest Snow.

We learned how the guard has both federal and state missions and how it reports to our governor, Deval Patrick, who has attended every funeral of Massachusetts soldiers since he took office.

We learned how the Massachusetts National Guard works with MEMA and FEMA and of its immense and thorough efforts in planning before possible disasters. We heard about the various critical roles that it has played from clearing roads in the above natural disasters (clearing 600 miles worth in one disaster alone) to even doing thousands of "wellness" checks on citizens.

Lt. Col. Sahady had served in both Bosnia and in Iraq and shared with us his experiences. We were amazed at his resiliency and I was so pleased that he emphasized the importance of education. His energy, enthusiasm, and warmth showed throughout his visit today.

He also spoke about the executive order from President Obama of last March that created a rapid homeland response force with Massachusetts leading the effort and the US being divided into regions.

The education that we received today was truly special and I salute Lt. Col. Sahady and the Massachusetts National Guard. As citizens of this great Commonwealth, we are lucky to have such outstanding, trained individuals.

At the end of the class with numerous questions answered throughout his brilliant, captivating presentation, Lt. Col. Sahady presented me with a certificate of appreciation and a memento from Iraq. I was speechless and responded with a hug.

The photos above serve as additional mementos of a very special guest lecturer.