BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. - On May 19, 2011 members of the Mass. National Guard descended on H. A. Moses Scout Reservation in Russell, Mass. to participate in the 2012 Spring Camporee – dubbed Operation Moses Storm.
The National Guard was asked to participate in order to provide the scouts with an alternative, and more realistic, view of the military from the one popularized in video games and movies, demonstrating the true strength of their local Guard. “We wanted to show the scouts that the military isn't like many video games and movies, but rather there are numerous people with various skills,” explains Jerry Franklin, Asst. Boy Scout Advancement Chairman. “We wanted to have the scouts learn that scouting has many aspects of the military: teamwork, leadership, senior members in charge, goal oriented, many capabilities, requirements, etc.” He added, that the skills learned as young scouts could later be translated into job-skills within the military. He wanted to emphasize that Scouts live by a similar Honor Code as the military members embody; character traits like: Service, Integrity and Excellence.
Brig.Gen.Paul G. Smith, Assistant Adjutant General - Army, Mass. National Guard, opened the event with a short address. Himself a scout as a child, General Smith extolled the various benefits of scouting, and directly attributed his becoming a leader with what he learned and did as a Boy Scout in his youth.
The Mass. National Guard members setup over a half-dozen interactive demonstrations around the campsite that tied the Guards vast skill-sets with either the Boy Scout Handbook or part of a Merit Badge requirement. Members of the 104th Fighter Wing out of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield provided classes on Fire Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Survival and Explosive Safety.
Scouts had an opportunity to pilot a Remote Ordnance Neutralization System (RONS) bomb-disposal robot, as Master Sgt. Greg Pauli shared stories of his work overseas disarming or destroying improvised explosive devices. “It’s important for the Scout’s to learn the value of leadership and teamwork, part of our everyday life in the Guard,” said Sgt. Pauli.
Fire safety and weapons safety were also discussed, as Scouts earned merit badges for participating in two different displays hosted by Mass. Guard members. During the fire safety class Matthew Ball and Travis Witbeck stressed to the Scouts that camp fires, if not handled correctly can cause extensive damage. The class which provided the scouts the opportunity to earn a Merit Badge stressed proper ways to start and extinguish a fire.
As the Guard serves as the one of the lead agents for natural disasters response, one of the demonstrations garnered a lot of interest from the Scouts following the natural disasters the effected Western Mass last year. Tech. Sgt. Karla Belliveau and Master Sgt. Dan Devin taught the Scouts how to survive after a severe storm as well as how the military prepares to survive after chemical attacks. All aspects of Emergency Preparedness are important for these junior leaders.
"It's important that we get out here and show them what we go through. They get to wear our gear and get a better idea of the kind of effort and teamwork it takes to be in the military - It's not easy," said Sgt. Devin, 104th Fighter Wing Emergency Management. The Mass. National Guard is proud to support events like this; our participation truly demonstrates the value of our integration with the community.