Nevadans guarding Olympics

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Nineteen members of the Nevada Army Guard's Detachment 1, G Co., 140th Aviation unit, along with two CH-47 Chinook helicopters are at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"The Joint Task Force Olympics requested that we support the Olympics by transporting security military personnel or civilian law enforcement agents to strategic locations when necessary," Capt. Kris Kirkland said. "We are also on 24-hour standby for any contingency operation, including medical evacuation support in the event of mass casualties."

"I jumped at the chance to volunteer for this assignment," said Spec. Shannon Davis, an aviation mechanic specializing in radio, wiring and navigational systems and one of the two women deployed.

"We are, of course, hoping the situation doesn't arise where we would have to assist in evacuating mass causalities, but I'm glad that we are able to be here if the need arises. I feel that I am participating in a mission that has meaning and purpose."

According to Kirkland, prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 the unit was excited to be a part of the Olympic experience. Since the attacks the need to have large numbers of law enforcement and military personnel available has escalated and the "Mustangs" are proud that they are able to fulfill that obligation.

"Our military is a visible presence not only to United States citizens, but to citizens from nations throughout the world," Sgt. Shaun Weakland said. "We show that we are concerned with the welfare of all countries present here, which reflects positively on not only the United States military but the Nevada National Guard and our nation as a whole."

Spec. Dale Gilson agreed, "The mission, our presence and availability, is a very crucial one. Just the appearance of the military adds to the sense of security. I've only been married a year and a half and my wife is not pleased with me being gone for three weeks, but she realizes that it is my duty to serve my country and supports me completely."

The 140th will remain deployed to Utah through Feb. 25. It is based at the Nevada Army Guard's aviation facility at Stead in Northern Nevada.


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