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Chief of the National Guard Bureau visits the Green Mountain Boys

U.S. Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau speaks with Soldiers from the 131st Engineering Company, Vermont Army National Guard, Camp Johnson, Colchester, Vt., May 2, 2015. Grass and U.S. Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell O. Brush, Senior Enlisted Advisor for the National Guard Bureau are in town to meet and speak with the Soldiers and Airmen of the Vermont National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison)

Story by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Mattison

CAMP JOHNSON, Vt. – Senior leadership from the National Guard Bureau visited with members of the Vermont Army and Air National Guard on May 2.

“This really is where the rubber meets the road,” said Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We can come out and see the men and women of the National Guard. There’s no doubt about it, in my 45 years I’ve served, I’ve never seen anything better than the Guard today.

Grass and Command Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell Brush, senior enlisted advisor for the National Guard Bureau, spent the day meeting with Soldiers and Airmen while touring the various facilities at Camp Johnson, the Army Aviation Support Facility and at the 158th Fighter Wing.

“It’s incredibly important that the Chief of the National Guard Bureau visits all of the Soldiers and Airmen across the force to let them know how much he appreciates what they do for their states, the Nation, and to personally thank them for their sacrifices. It’s important for him to meet them and their families, to get a better sense of who the National Guard is and to hear what they have to say about the role of the National Guard in today’s world,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard.

During their visit, Grass and Brush had an opportunity to visit the 131st Engineer Company, were able to speak with students attending the Warrior Leaders Course at the 124th Regional Training Institute and participate in a reenlistment ceremony during a town hall held for the Soldiers and Airmen.

After addressing Guardsmen at the Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF), Gen. Grass presented Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general, with the Army National Guard Distinguished Aviation Safety Award for 40 years of Aviation Service without a Class A or B aircraft incident. A Class A accident is an accident in which the resulting total cost of property damage is $2,000,000 or more; an Army aircraft or missile is destroyed, missing, or abandoned; or an injury and/or occupational illness results in a fatality or permanent total disability. A Class B accident is an accident in which the resulting total cost of property damage is $500,000 or more, but less than $2,000,000; an injury and/or occupational illness results in permanent partial disability, or when 3 or more personnel are hospitalized as inpatients as the result of a single occurrence.

“This award represents over four decades of safety culture that’s inherent in today’s aviation world,” said Cray. “As an aviator myself, I take great pride in accepting an award that represents the professionalism and the technical abilities of well over 300 aviation soldiers who contributed to this outstanding achievement.”

During a town hall at the 158th Fighter Wing, Grass and Brush addressed the Soldiers and Airmen on a variety of topics.

“Who we are as a force has changed,” said Grass. “There is a higher expectation of you today than there has ever been in history. Not only on the home-front, but overseas as well.”

Grass touched on the future of the Guard, civilian support from the Guard and cyberwarfare. He also urged the Guardsmen to thank their families when they went home that day, because none of the great service that they provide happens without their families.

“Let me just say that you all have a tremendous reputation,” Grass said. “Tremendous leaders, both NCOs and officers, and in Washington, D.C., everyone knows the Vermont National Guard. They know that when you get called, you’re going to do the mission like no one else has. There are people who will step up because they know or they fought with the 86th Brigade. Or they know about the Fighter Wing because they’ve been with you somewhere. So please, please keep up this great reputation and the history you have behind a tremendous unit.”

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