NEWS | May 21, 2020

Pa. National Guard, Civil Air Patrol deliver, distribute more than 800,000 meals to Pennsylvanians

By Army Lt. Col. Angela King-Sweigart

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, two organizations with a close relationship -- the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Pennsylvania Wing, Civil Air Patrol -- have worked concurrently under the direction of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to provide Pennsylvanians with meals.

The Pennsylvania National Guard’s Task Force Support completed multiple missions to deliver food to locations throughout the state.

The 545,000 meals, supplied by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency resupplied county emergency management agencies, senior citizen centers, food banks and other charitable organizations.

One unit that has been integral to Task Force Support’s mission is the 131st Transportation Company, 228th Transportation Battalion, 213th Regional Support Group, headquartered in Williamstown, Pa.

After loading the meals at a warehouse in Harrisburg, Pa., the unit delivered them throughout western Pennsylvania. The unit used its Army equipment to accomplish the delivery. The M-915A5 Line-Haul Tractor Truck and M872 A4 Semi-Trailer, a military version of a semi-tractor trailer truck, according to Staff Sgt. Brian Swomley, a team member and truck driver with the 131st Transportation Co.

The unit completed more than 18 missions throughout western Pennsylvania. Each mission was broken down further into several delivery locations, said Swomley.

In his civilian capacity, Swomley is director of operations for Springboard Media in Philadelphia, Pa. He said his employer has been extremely supportive of his role in the COVID-19 response.

“This is what I signed up for,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to help fellow Pennsylvanian’s as a Pennsylvanian. This is the uniqueness of being in the National Guard, we are Pennsylvanians first.”

The Pennsylvania Wing, Civil Air Patrol contributed to the mission as well by staffing points of distribution sites. The organization assisted hundreds of households in the Bucks and Lawrence County communities under the direction of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, according to Lt. Col. Brian Cuce, Pennsylvania Wing Director of Emergency Services, Civil Air Patrol.

To date, the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol has distributed more than 250,000 meals.

The two organizations are well-suited to combine strengths and support one another when responding to disasters in Pennsylvania, as well as continuing their partnerships in other non-disaster scenarios.

"We all do our best to support our Pennsylvania National Guard to the fullest extent possible and sincerely appreciate all our Guardsmen do to support our three missions: aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services,” said Col Kevin Berry, Pennsylvania Wing Commander, Civil Air Patrol. "Our nearly 2,000 members look to the citizen Airmen and Soldiers in the Guard as shining examples of service and professionalism."

The Civil Air Patrol is a private, non-profit humanitarian organization, which is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Many members of the Pennsylvania National Guard are also members of the Civil Air Patrol.

The Pennsylvania National Guard is comprised of the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard, reserve components of the United States Army and Air Force. The National Guard has a unique dual mission that consists of both federal and state roles. For state missions, like the COVID-19 pandemic response, the governor, through the state adjutant general, can call-up Guard forces. In addition, the President of the United States can activate the National Guard for participation in federal missions.