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Three area soldiers deploying to Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane recovery

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 12:26 PM

An advance team from the 285th Medical Company (Area Support) and the 137th Signal Company board a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus, Ohio to deploy to Puerto Rico. The Soldiers will be conducting logistical and operational assessments prior to the remainder of their units' arrival, in support of hurricane relief efforts. Video courtesy of the Ohio National Guard.

Three area soldiers and their Ohio Army National Guard medical unit are scheduled to deploy to Puerto Rico this week to assist with the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, according to a press release. +

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Spc. Will Mauntler of Troy, Spc. Adam Lemaster of Franklin and Sgt. Joshua Taylor of Middletown are all members of the 285th Area Support Medical Company, based in Columbus. An advance party of 30 soldiers left Tuesday, and the main body is expected to depart Thursday night from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.

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The Newark-based 137th Signal Company will accompany the 285th ASMC on the mission.

Three area soldiers and their Ohio Army National Guard medical unit are scheduled to deploy to Puerto Rico this week to assist with the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

The medical company is capable of providing medical support such as trauma health care, preventive medicine consultation, optometry support, mental health consultation and ground evacuation of patients. 

The signal company can provide communication capabilities with mobile satellite, electricity, 

telephone, internet and video conferencing, and information technology services.

Hurricane Maria, which slammed into Puerto Rico in late September, has left 34 dead and more than 90 percent of the island’s residents without power and other resources. 

Currently, the Ohio National Guard has more than 30 Airmen from the 200th Red Horse Squadron, from Port Clinton, and the Springfield-based 269th Combat Communications Squadron in the U.S. Virgin Islands assisting with the recovery efforts. In all, there are more than 100  Ohio National Guard members supporting hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Middletown soldier killed in Fort Jackson military accident to be laid to rest

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 7:26 PM

Private Timothy Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County.

UPDATE @ 11 a.m. (Oct. 16):

A Middletown U.S. Army soldier killed in a military accident early this month at Fort Jackson in South Carolina will be laid to rest Monday.

Funeral services for Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft will be held at 2 p.m. in Middletown at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home, 3805 Roosevelt Blvd.

A visitation will be held prior to the funeral from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

According to his obituary, Ashcraft attended Mayfield Elementary and Middletown Middle School in Middletown. He then went to West Clermont school district to finish his education. Timothy also attended Live Oaks, where he was studying to be a welder. 

Interment will be held at Woodside Cemetery.

INITIAL REPORT:

A U.S. Army soldier from Southwest Ohio was killed Friday after he was struck by a military vehicle while in formation.

Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft, was one of two soldiers who died in the incident that injured six others at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, according to the military. The other killed was identified as Pvt. Ethan Shrader of Prospect, Tenn.

Ashcraft was a 2017 graduate of Amelia High School in Clermont County, our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are thankful for his dedication and service to our country,” according to a statement released by the West Clermont Local School District. “His impact ... will not soon be forgotten.”

U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate what caused the military vehicle to crash into the pedestrians.

“We are continuing to support everyone affected by this tragic event,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the Army will thoroughly investigate the cause of the fatal crash.

The six injured were privates Emmett Foreman of Daleville, Alabama; Hanna new of Cartersville, Georgia; Benjamin Key of Cookville, Tenn.; Alan Kryszak of Clarksville, Tenn.; Cardre Jackson Jr. of Laurel, Maryland; and James Foster of Macon, Ga.

DoD: Springboro soldier killed in Niger in attack by Islamic extremists

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 1:35 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

More details revealed about Niger attack where local solider was killed

UPDATE @ 5:45 p.m. (Oct. 11): Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson of Springboro and the other U.S. soldiers killed in Niger were victims of an attack by Islamic extremists, the Department of Defense tells the Associated Press.

EARLIER REPORT (Oct. 7)

Family and friends of 39-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson remember the Springboro soldier after he was killed in a terrorist ambush in Niger. 

Staff Sgt. Johnson was killed during a joint operation between U.S. and Nigerian forces near the border of Mali. The Associated Press reported that he and three others were killed by enemy fire after an ambush. Around 40 and 50 extremists ambushed in vehicles and motorcycles, attacking the patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. 

RELATED: Remembering 43 area servicemen who died on active duty since 2002

Jeff and Teena Baldridge are neighbors of where Staff Sgt. Johnson’s family used to live, and saw soldiers outside, looking for Johnson’s mother. 

"We knew when they said that -- we knew who it was and we knew where he was," Teena Baldridge said. 

"Jeremiah was doing what he really wanted to do, he really wanted to be an NCO (non-commissioned officer) in the United States Army," Jeff Baldridge said. Baldridge is also a retired Air Force veteran. 

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Political leaders also shared their condolences, including U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Gov. John Kasich tweeted “My heart goes out to Jeremiah’s family. Rest in peace, Staff Sergeant.”

Staff Sgt. Johnson is survived by  a wife and two children. His funeral service will be held sometime within the next week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 

Ohio National Guard deploys more troops to hurricane ravaged Caribbean

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 1:02 PM


            Air Force Reserve firefighters board a Wright-Patterson based C-17 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Sept. 12, 2017, as they head to south Florida for Hurricane Irma relief efforts. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
Air Force Reserve firefighters board a Wright-Patterson based C-17 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Sept. 12, 2017, as they head to south Florida for Hurricane Irma relief efforts. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

The Ohio National Guard has sent more than 100 airmen and soldiers to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in a growing U.S. troop presence that has reached 11,000, according to the Defense Department.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm Sept.19 with winds up to 155 mph, knocking out power and causing widespread destruction. That followed a glancing blow from powerful Hurricane Irma less than two weeks before Maria unleashed havoc in the Caribbean.

Some leaders in Puerto Rico have urged a faster U.S. response because of the dire situation many on the island of 3.5 million U.S. residents face without food, water, medicine and power. U.S. authorities have pledged to deliver whatever aid is necessary.

This week, the Ohio Air and Army National Guard sent 80 troops to the U.S. territory.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 hurricane relief efforts expected to fly for weeks

Thirty Ohio guardsmen flew to the island Tuesday to prepare for the arrival of other troops and assess logistical demands, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Beougher, a Guard spokeswoman in Columbus.

Twenty Air National Guardsmen from both the 178th Wing in Springfield and the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, which flies C-130 cargo planes, transported a mobile kitchen trailer to the U.S. territory on Wednesday.

On Thursday, 30 Guardsmen with the Columbus-based 285th Area Support Medical Co. left for Puerto Rico to offer medical assistance

In the Virgin Islands, Ohio troops included six Air National Guardsmen with the 269th Combat Communications Squadron in Springfield who deployed a month ago.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 flies Indiana rescuers to Puerto Rico after hurricane

Twenty troops with the Port Clinton-based 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operation Repair Squadron (RED HORSE) were sent to the Virgin Islands on Sept. 13.

The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has flown more than 650 passengers and transported more than 1.3 million pounds of relief supplies since late August to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The C-17 wing transported the aid to disaster zones after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck within three weeks. The unit has sent 13 reservists to Florida and Georgia to support hurricane relief work, also, according to Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a wing spokeswoman.

Wright-Patterson Medical Center deployed three, three-member medical teams to Puerto Rico, one of which remains on the island, according to Wright-Patterson spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Through Thursday, the U.S. military reported it’s delivered to Puerto Rico 7.3 million meals, 5.3 million liters of water, 22,000 cots, 11,000 tarps, 278 generators and more than 100 field trucks and drivers.

RELATED: When hurricanes strike, Wright-Patt crews have taken to the air

The U.S. naval hospital ship Comfort with 250-patient beds arrived at the island Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.

Defense Department leaders have said the demand for humanitarian assistance is significant and slowed the deployment of U.S. troops to overseas missions.

Wright Patt C-17 hurricane relief flights expected to fly for weeks

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 5:00 AM

Airmen prepare to offload a Wright Patt C-17 delivering troops and supplies Sept. 12, 2017 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
Airmen prepare to offload a Wright Patt C-17 delivering troops and supplies Sept. 12, 2017 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

Powerful hurricanes that barreled through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands leaving a deadly swath of destruction will likely keep Wright-Patterson C-17 transport jets flying relief missions for weeks, a unit official said Thursday.

The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing has had an average of a flight a day since the first mission to Texas launched Aug. 30 after Hurricane Harvey left widespread flooding in the wake of a deluge of record rainfall, the official said.

Between the 17 missions flown after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria through Wednesday, the wing has transported more than 650 passengers and hauled more than 1.3 million pounds of cargo, figures show.

RELATED: An inside look: Take a flight aboard a Wright-Patt C-17 hurricane relief mission to Florida

“We’ve been incredibly busy,” said Lt. Col. Bryan M. Bailey, director of operations for the 89th Airlift Squadron, part of the 445th Airlift Wing based at Wright-Patterson. “We’ve had an airplane airborne in support of hurricane relief everyday.”

Each mission often has several legs, or separate flights: C-17 crews have picked up troops, first responders and supplies and flown to hurricane-ravaged areas, he said. Among other spots, the workhorse airlifters have landed in recent weeks in Texas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Delaware, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Honduras.

Wright-Patt C-17s transported thousands of packages of meals-ready-to eat, water, sleeping cots, farm combine-sized forklifts, power equipment and other supplies, according to wing spokeswoman Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris.

RELATED: When hurricanes strike, Wright-Patt crews have taken to the air

“We’ve basically been in surge operations and making it happen with extra volunteers,” Bailey said. “…The sense of urgency is shown through the volunteerism that we’ve had because this is above what we normally do.”

Flights headed to St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico left Wednesday with an 18th mission set to take-off Thursday for Puerto Rico, officials said.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 flies Indiana rescuers to Puerto Rico after hurricane

The wing is postured on alert status for relief flights through the end of October, Bailey said. “It might be longer,” the C-17 pilot added.

The Wright-Patterson reserve wing has nine C-17 Globemaster III airplanes that fly missions around the globe.