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Fort Drum soldiers reflect on work during aftermath of Superstorm Sandy

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FORT DRUM — A week after wrapping up their work aiding Superstorm Sandy victims, soldiers on the post are reflecting on what they accomplished.

Maj. Andrew J. Dial, S-3 officer for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Phoenix, said helicopter crews flew about 230 hours during their approximately two weeks in the region, assessing conditions on the ground and moving civilian emergency personnel around the area.

The brigade only weeks before had returned from a stint at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“It was a lot of moving pieces to it, but it was definitely a rewarding mission for us,” he said.

Air crews, first responding to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., were eventually moved to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, about 20 miles from Trenton, N.J.

“This is something we train for, being able to rapidly respond to a changing mission,” Maj. Dial said.

The crews returned around Nov. 16.

Also responding to the hit areas were fueling crews. About 50 2,500-gallon fuel tankers and 250 personnel from brigades throughout the division were dispatched to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Crews were then spread to Fort Hamilton, N.Y., along with West Orange, Freehold and Egg Harbor, N.J.

“It was 10th Mountain folks all the way down that I-95 corridor,” said Lt. Col. Michael B. Lalor, commander of the 710th Brigade Support Battalion of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

As one example of their work, crews helped fuel trucks used by Army Corps of Engineer units pumping water from subway areas. At Fort Hamilton, soldiers helped fuel the vehicles of emergency first responders.

“It was a great way for us to give back,” Lt. Col. Lalor said. “Overall, we were very proud that we were able to contribute and be value added.”

Overall, Lt. Col. Lalor said more than 21,000 gallons of fuel were distributed during their time in the region.

The fueling crew’s work was handed over to the Defense Logistics Agency on Nov. 14, with soldiers returning to the north country over the next two days.

Lt. Col. Lalor added the division “has a proud history of answering the call in times of need,” a nod to its work in 1992 to help Hurricane Andrew victims in south Florida.

“We’re proud we can add another chapter to that,” he said.

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