September 5, 2017
Story by Staff Sgt. Nina Ramon
U.S. Army Reserve Command
BEAUMONT, Texas – Soldiers are seen as those who sacrifice their own way of life so that others my live in safety and security from the moment they decided to join the military. It’s even stated in the Soldier’s Creed: “I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values”
And those Army values – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage and Selfless Service – are instilled in every Soldier. Especially highlighted by the current recovery operations, is how Soldiers – particularly Army Reserve Soldiers – truly live these values in their everyday lives.
On August 25, 2017 the first category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Texas since 1961 devastated the Texas coastal line. One particular city that is no stranger to natural disasters, weathering several devastating hurricanes is Beaumont, Texas. The bustling coastal city known for being the home of the first major oil field is located approximately 90 miles east of Houston.
As storm waters rose, Army Reserve Capt. Tabitha Williams evacuated her home in Humble Texas, located northeast of Houston, to her mother’s home in Spring Texas. On the evening of August 29 Williams, the commander for the Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 373 Combat Sustainment Support Battalion received the call to gather a team to support the disaster relief efforts in the City of Beaumont through the Defense Support of Civil Authorities.
Under intense time pressure, she called upon the 95 Soldiers assigned to the 373rd CSSB HHC to support the mission however; only 15 local Soldiers were not adversely affect by the hurricane and could respond to assist the disaster support mission.
“The initial request was for vehicles that could evacuate people in the high water areas,” said Williams. “We also escorted and transported emergency personnel – that was about 70 percent of our mission.”
The Soldiers were able to use the 373rd CSSB headquarter building, located at the Carl H. Pipkin Memorial United States Army Reserve Center in Beaumont Texas, as a base of operations. This facility, operated by the 63rd Regional Support Command, served as a pivotal staging area for rescue operations in the affected area.
“Most of the Soldiers got there within two hours,” said Williams. “And the first of our trucks that rolled out was within an hour.”
The 373 CSSB was able to utilize three of their Medium Tactical Vehicles; these vehicles are part of the Army’s primary set of strategically deployable vehicles with a five-ton capacity. Once the team was able to organize they descended to local fire stations to begin their mission. Each of the military vehicles was paired with a dump truck and a bus.
In support to DSCA during emergencies the Army Reserve provides capabilities such as aviation lift, search and rescue or extraction, quartermaster (food, shelter, potable water, heated tents, etc.), civil affairs and public information as well as a significant portion of full-spectrum engineer capability.
“I feel missions like this are important because as Reserve Soldiers, we are part of this community,” said Williams. “And the Reserve unit is located in the community rather than on an installation.”
The U.S. Army Reserve stands ready to deploy on short notice in support of missions, not just around the world but in the very own communities. The country’s ability to have this community based force with more than 198,000 Soldiers across this great nation to respond to emergency relief efforts thus preventing human suffering and mitigating great property damage is through the DSCA mobilization authorization.
The local Soldiers from the 373 CSSB HHC that came to the aid of other in support of the DSCA mission epitomized each of the Army values. Each Soldier, despite struggling with their own hardships caused by the hurricane, put the welfare of the nation before their own.
One of the Soldiers assisted with the DSCA mission was Spc. Hlevictor Hopkins, an IT specialist with the 373rd CSSB HHC.
When Hopkins received the call from his command, he was actively engaged with his own insurance claims and disaster recovery activities. Upon notification of a mission, his initial thought was “hurry up and find the best route to get to Beaumont.”
“I was a little emotional but ready to help,” said Hopkins. “I was counting my blessings for the minimal damage I had on my house, but at the same time excited at the opportunity to lend a helping hand.”
Quickly donning his uniform, and grabbing a few essential items, he headed out to link-up with his unit in his personal vehicle. Unfortunately, due to the flooding, the typical two hour drive would take over four hours.
As he neared the city limits of Beaumont, the miles of flood waters submerging the road eventually stalled his vehicle. Hopkins would not let setbacks keep him from accomplishing his mission. While pushing his car through the water, a passerby offered their assistance, towing Hopkin and his car to a nearby service station. From there, Hopkins called another team member to pick him up while en route to rescue operations.
“The two things the Army has taught me is to be vigilant and to adapt and overcome,” said Hopkins. “I was determined to get to the mission,” continued Hopkins. “I had a home to go back to and many others did not.”
Hopkins, like his fellow 373rd CSSB HHC brethren, knows what it means to be a Soldier. They live the Army values every day in everything they do – whether they’re on the job or off.
“The biggest impact this mission had on me,” said Hopkins. “Is seeing the community come together; it made me proud to serve and help the community.”
In additional to the high water rescue, the 373rd CSSB HHC also transported medical supplies from Orange, Texas and essential items for an evacuee shelter in Port Arthur.
The 373rd CSSB is a part of the 211th Regional Support Group, 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). Always ready and able to respond to the request of State and Local authorities, the Army Reserve has more than 325 Soldiers executing more than 28 missions in support of hurricane rescue and relief efforts.
This article was originally found here.