Convoy for community: Guard soldiers serve local residents during training


PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D.- The Golden Coyote offers an opportunity for National Guard members from all over the country to perform training exercises that also benefit the community. One project this year invoiced hauling timber from deep in the forest to communities where it can do some good.

For some, the Golden Coyote is a tradition. “I‘m an 88 Mike, I’ve been in the military for 14 years. This is my second time here,” says Staff Sgt. Phillip Rodgers, with the 1244 Transportation Company.

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The 1244 Transportation Company of the Illinois Army National Guard trained their members in cargo transportation, taking advantage of terrain that they rarely get to practice on. Based in Chicago, soldiers in this unit had an opportunity to train in an environment more comparable to what they may encounter on a deployment. Wood was loaded up on a convoy and sent to be used as firewood on a local reservation. 

“This experience is really good, especially for the newer drivers to learn about maneuvering their vehicles and to gain a lot of experience as far as like different conditions from just regular city driving. But it does improve their skills,” adds Staff Sgt. Rodgers. “If deployment ever came, you never know where you’re going to go. You never know what kind of environment you’re going to be in. So it’s better to be prepared,” says Pfc. Alfonso Flores, also with the 1244 Transportation Company in the Illinois Army National Guard. 

Soldiers also get the chance to partner with other units that come from different areas.

We partner with our battalion and then we also go with other outside units as well, some of them from South Dakota. So you get a different experience of working with different people, different life experiences, different kinds of knowledge. A lot of knowledge comes from experience,” Staff Sgt. Rodgers says.

One of the most important experiences is building friendships and trust across state lines.

At the end of the day, you know, they’re like family to us, so we want them to be as trained and skilled just like we are so that they’re safe,” says Pfc. Alfonso Flores. 





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