Missouri National Guard field artillery Soldiers help with northwest flood

By Spc. Antony S. Lee

MARYVILLE, Mo. - When Spc. Jesse Ramsey left home for service with his Guard unit, he thought he would be doing a routine weapons qualification.

Now, Ramsey is among a growing number of Missouri National Guard Soldiers who are serving in flood response efforts in Northwest Missouri.

"This is my first time getting mobilized, and it has been a great experience," said Ramsey, who serves in Headquarters Battery of the 1-129th Field Artillery Regiment in Maryville. "I enjoy helping out in any way I can."

That's exactly what Ramsey did on late Thursday night into Friday morning when an unexpected levee breach near Phelps City and Rock Port put Ramsey and his fellow artillerymen into the thick of the action. He was tasked with alerting residents of the imminent danger, as well as helping evacuate them when the order was put out by local authorities.

Over the course of the regiment's mobilization, the water level had changed several times, said Staff Sgt. Johnny Williams, of Battery D in Independence. Although the area hadn't experienced a breach in 1993, the Soldiers were prepared in case history didn't repeat itself.

Williams, who mobilized with the Missouri National Guard for Hurricane Katrina, said the Soldiers of his regiment are well prepared for any mission.

"We're artillery," Williams said. "If they want it done, they call us. A Soldier does what he needs to do - he adapts to the mission"

The Soldiers have been working on 12-hour shifts supporting local authorities. Their missions have included monitoring levees, patrolling the streets, running check points at closed levees, and, in the case of Watson, helping residents evacuate.

For Rick Sons, chief deputy of the Atchison County Sheriff's Office, the Soldiers are providing extra hands and eyes to the department. The Sheriff's Office and the Guardsmen have worked well together as a team, he said.

"It seems like every day we end up with a different job for them and they jump right in," Sons said. "They have gone over and beyond the call, and we appreciate everything they have done. They have done a wonderful job."

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