Nat’l Guard members speak to Rotary club
Two members of the Alabama National Guard spoke to the Rotary Rocket Club of Madison on Thursday.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hawkins, Jr. and Captain Tim S. Stone recounted stories at the meeting of the firsthand work they completed and saw after the tornadoes in April.
Hawkins told how he has been in the National Guard for 26 years and has never seen devastation like what happened on April 27th.
Hawkins said that the tornadoes were declared a Category 1 Natural Disaster, which is only the third in United States history. He said that the Alabama National Guard launched the largest domestic operation in Alabama after the tornadoes.
“We were just honored to be there to help fellow citizens,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said that the Alabama National Guard was on the ground where the tornadoes touched after just 35 minutes. He continued to report that on May 5 there were 3,000 active duty guardsmen helping the tornado ravaged areas.
The soldiers agreed that they both saw things during this disaster that they had never seen before such as Amish relief workers building houses in Hackleburg, United States flags everywhere and Auburn students helping those who suffered in Tuscaloosa.
“I saw the very best of Alabama and the United States,” Stone said.
Stone spent most of his time after the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He said he only slept four hours the first 48 hours after the tornadoes.
“My time in Tuscaloosa was very stressful and incredibly rewarding. It was very long days and I had guys that did incredible things far beyond any reasonable expectation,” Stone said.
Stone said the National Guard assisted in 22 arrests in the first four days after the tornado, but then they didn’t have any more arrests.
The National Guard not only helped the local police department. Stone said that the National Guard helped the elderly and drove over 20,000 miles over 20 days for supplies.
“The most rewarding part for me of being part of the National Guard is the chance to serve both my state and the country,” Hawkins said. “It’s about serving your community. When the country needs us whether it’s here in the state or overseas, we walk out of our civilian jobs, put the uniform on and serve our country.”