Harold D. Speakman Post 356

Memorial Day Essay for 2020

1st Place Winner:  Olivia Nardi-Fitzgerald, 7th Grade, St. Margaret School, Narberth, PA

What are the Purposes, Duties, and Functions of the Pennsylvania National Guard

       The Pennsylvania National Guard was formed in 1636 and includes Guard members who are dividedbetween 2 of our military branches, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.  These Citizen soldiers areeveryday people like you and me who can enjoy their day by day life such as being able to go to college,work, spend time with family and friends but who are also able to serve as part time military servicemembers.  The National Guard reports to the Governor in their home state, however, they can be calledto help out in other states.  The National Guard has Army and Air Force divisions and each have differentresponsibilities.  For example, the Army protects the towns, helps out with neighborhoods, and saveslives.

       The National Guard provides aid to their home state, and others, during natural disasters and pandemics, responds to combat missions, anti-drug procedures, reconstruction efforts, and other missions.  The Pennsylvania National Guard has been helping out communities by bringing emergency supplies, food baskets, and of course smiles to people’s faces.  The guard members pick up the food baskets and deliver them to residents of nursing homes and county departments.  The Pennsylvania National Guard has delivered more than 225,000 meals across Pennsylvania.

       Most currently, the Pennsylvania National Guard has played an important role in the Covid-19 crisis.  The National Guard has been deployed to at least 10 nursing homes, where they have been filling in for nurses and caregivers who have to quarantine at home because of being exposed to Covid-19.  I addition, Guardsmen were responsible for escorting home 21 Pennsylvania residents who were quarantined aboard a cruise ship for weeks.  The Guard members also helped to keep testing centers safe.

       The requirements to be a National Guard member are that you have to be between 17-35 years old and to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.  Candidates must meet medical and physical requirements.  Once you are enlisted you must go to a 6 month boot camp and then after that you are required to train one weekend each month and a two week annual training at the local base.

       I wanted to get a more personal experience from a current Pennsylvania National Guard member.  In speaking with Captain Dennis Morgan, his experience in the Pennsylvania Guard Air Force for 20 years has been nothing but positive.  The National Guard has helped him to obtain two Masters Degrees.  Captain Morgan was a mission system specialist for the last 13 years where his role was to load bombs and missiles onto fighter jets.  He then moved up ranks to an Officer in strategic military planning.  Captain Morgan’s most memorable experience took place in Germany.  Captain Morgan and his fellow officers were responsible for developing an evacuation plan for 12,000 Americans that were attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics held in Russia in the event of a hostile situation.  According to Captain Morgan, the most amazing thing about being a Pennsylvania National Guard is knowing that you are doing something for your country and making life-long friendships along the way.  His least favorite part is saying goodbye to his family and friends when training or duty calls.

       In conclusion, the members of the National Guard are on the frontlines.  The mission for the National Guard is to always respond with strength.  They are by choice.  They do not seek out special attention or special treatment.  These courageous and selfless members help the citizens of the United States to get through difficult times with their unique experience, training and never give up attitude.  The National Guard is always ready to defend the American way of life.