Hawaii National Guard Soldier Receives State Medal of Valor

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Hawaii Governor David Ige places the State Medal of Valor around the neck of Staff Sergeant Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho, Jr. at a ceremony held on February 9, 2019, at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii. On August 23, 2018, as part of the Hawaii National Guard’s response to Tropical Storm Lane, Staff Sgt. Lum Ho disregarded a substantial risk to his own safety by maneuvering his Humvee through dangerous hip-high rushing water to reach a family that had been cut off by the flash flood waters brought on by Tropical Storm Lane. While risking his own life, Staff Sgt. Lum Ho’s actions saved the lives of six civilians and one family pet. (Photo by Christopher Martens)

[/vc_column_text][qt-spacer][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:60|text_align:left|color:%233a3a3a” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text 0=””]“A series of very difficult decisions . . . that would save the lives of a family of six, and one family pet.” These are the words used by Hawaii Governor David Ige just prior to presenting Staff Sergeant Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho, Bravo Company, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, with the State Medal of Valor during a ceremony held at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii on February 9, 2019.

The Medal of Valor is awarded by the Governor to individuals who distinguish themselves through performance of an uncommon act of personal heroism involving the voluntary risk of his/her own life. Governor Ige presented this medal to Lum Ho in recognition of his life-saving actions while serving as part of the Hawaii National Guard’s emergency response to Hurricane Lane.

On August 23, 2018, Lum Ho was assigned to the Lava Support Mission as a member of Task Force Hawaii, which was established in response to the Kilauea volcano eruption on the island of Hawaii. However, with Hurricane Lane closing in, Task Force Hawaii’s mission quickly changed from lava support to hurricane support. That evening Lum Ho, along with Pvt. Justin Dejesus was assigned as a roving security patrol, but when Task Force Hawaii received a request for assistance from the Hawaii County Fire Department, Lum Ho was redirected to assist.

When Lum Ho arrived, he learned that a family of six was stranded in an area where all ingress and egress routes were cut off by high flooding waters, and their house was in danger of potential collapse. The road to their home was flooded, eroded on one side with large pieces of debris floating, limiting the type of vehicle that could traverse through. This included first responders, who had already exhausted their capabilities. Equipped with a firm understanding of the capabilities of his assigned Humvee, as well as his knowledge of the local terrain, Lum Ho quickly worked with first responders to formulate an innovative plan of action. Once the plan was in place, he placed himself in grave danger as he maneuvered the Humvee under extremely dangerous conditions, ferrying Hawaii County firefighter a cross the flood waters to allow safe rescue of the stranded family

Speaking at the ceremony, Governor Ige impressed upon those in attendance, the gravity of the situation faced by Hawaii Island-based Lum Ho.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Governor David Ige presents State Medal of Valor recipient, Staff Sergeant Gregory A.Y. Lum Ho, Jr., with a framed award certificate during a ceremony held on February 9, 2019, at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii. Staff Sgt. Lum Ho was awarded the State Medal of Valor for ignoring substantial risk to his own life to ensure the rescue of a family of six while supporting Hawaii National Guard response efforts to Tropical Storm Lane on August 23, 2018, (Photo by Christopher Martens)

[/vc_column_text][qt-spacer][vc_column_text 0=””]“The hip high water, the pouring rain, the rushed element of time, the number of first responders, your own security team, your own family, all were taken into consideration when you decided to use your Humvee to ferry the firefighters across swiftly moving water,” the governor said, highlighting the weight of the decisions made by Lum Ho. “You displayed self-sacrifice and indisputably contributed to the alleviation of public tragedy.”

Finally, before presenting the Medal of Valor to Lum Ho, Governor Ige concluded, “You epitomize the Citizen Soldier and are a shining example of what Valor is.”

Although overwhelmed and greatly appreciative of this honor, Lum Ho believes the credit is best placed elsewhere.

“I think the leadership training we get in the National Guard prepares us for the situation where we need to make on the spot decisions,” Lum Ho said. More importantly, he attributes the successful rescue to those by his side that night, and the other members of Task Force Hawaii.

“Like the general and the Governor said, this is a team effort,” said Lum Ho during his speech. “From my co-driver who helped me navigate through the debris, to the mechanics that actually got my Humvee ready every night and kept it safe for me, without those guys, none of this would be possible.”

Ultimately, Staff Sgt. Lum Ho graciously accepted the Medal of Valor, but was sure to emphasize that he was doing so on behalf of the Soldiers and Airmen of Task Force Hawaii, as well as his comrades in Bravo Company.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Michigan National Guard in Inauguration-Day Ceremony

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Author – Andrew Layton

[/vc_column_text][qt-spacer][vc_column_text]Maj. Gen. Paul D. Rogers assumed duties as adjutant general, Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, in a ceremony following the inauguration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Michigan State Capitol, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2018.

Approximately 100 friends, family, and members of the Michigan National Guard were on-hand as Whitmer officiated the change of responsibility between Rogers and Lt. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, who has served as an adjutant general under the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder since January 2011.

The ceremony was one of Whitmer’s first acts as governor after taking the oath of office that morning.

“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is an essential organization that must stand ready to defend the nation, respond to natural and manmade disasters here in Michigan, and support critical veteran services in our state,” said Whitmer, addressing Rogers. “I have the fullest confidence that you will bring the character and commitment required to take on the task of leading 11,000 soldiers, airmen, and civilians of the department through any challenge they may face.”

Rogers, Michigan’s 34th adjutant general, brings high credentials and experience to the position.

Commissioned a second lieutenant of engineers in 1987 from Michigan Technical University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program, he deployed to Iraq in 2005 to form an engineering joint task force of over 1,000 soldiers, marines, and airmen. Most recently, Rogers has served as chief of staff and deputy commander, 46th Military Police Command, Lansing, Mich., tasked with disaster response and consequence management for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear events nationwide.

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The Michigan State Capitol during the inauguration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton).
The seal of the State of Michigan on the Capitol dais prior to the inauguration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 ( photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton.
The Michigan National Guard honor guard participates in the inauguration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).

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Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer and Brig. Gen. Paul Rogers, Michigan National Guard adjutant general (select) arrive at the Capitol dais for Whitmer’s inauguration ceremony, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).
Col. Kevin Bohnsack, state air surgeon, Michigan Air National Guard, escorts Michigan Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel to the Capitol dais at the inauguration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][qt-spacer][vc_column_text]Rogers is also a Department of the Army civilian professional, serving as a U.S. Army Tier 2 Senior Executive for more than 12 years. In this role, he directs the U.S. Army Research Development Engineering Command – Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Warren, Mich., providing advanced technology solutions for all U.S. military ground systems and combat support equipment. He holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

“Governor, thank you for this opportunity to serve these men and women,” said Rogers, shortly after accepting the colors of the Michigan National Guard from Whitmer in a symbolic passing of responsibility with Vadnais. “To the airmen and soldiers in this room, and the 11,000 currently serving today, I dedicate myself to you over this tenure; I am here for you, my family is here for you, and we will give our all to you.”

Rogers’ wife of 28 years, Sally, sons Timothy and Nicholas, along with daughter-in-law Kelsey, and grandson Lincoln, were in attendance.

In brief remarks, Vadnais confirmed Roger’s qualifications to lead the Michigan National Guard and offered a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt, which he cited as a guiding beacon through trials of leadership during his tenure as adjutant general.

“Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles…the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat;’ Governor, Maj. Gen. Rogers – welcome to the arena,” said Vadnais.[/vc_column_text][qt-spacer][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_placement=”middle”][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeIn”]

From left: Command Sgt. Maj. Dale Clarmont, Senior Enlisted Advisor, Michigan National Guard, Brig. Gen. Paul Rogers, Michigan National Guard adjutant general (select), Lt. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, Michigan National Guard adjutant general, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, pose before the adjutant general’s change of responsibility ceremony, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).

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Lt. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, Michigan National Guard adjutant general, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the adjutant general change of responsibility ceremony, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).

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With the transition of responsibility, Vadnais culminated a distinguished 43-year military career, beginning in 1970 when he joined the Michigan National Guard. He led 14,000 personnel in disaster relief operations following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and had received numerous awards and honors including the Distinguished Service Medal and Legion of Merit.

During the ceremony, Whitmer presented Vadnais with one of the first challenge coins of her administration. Additionally, she acknowledged the twenty-one soldiers from the Michigan National Guard who have given their lives over the last eighteen years of combat operations in the Middle East and affirmed her commitment to the people of the Michigan National Guard as she assumes the role of their Commander-in-Chief.

“Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian members, I thank you for your service, and I ask you to support and enable Maj. Gen. Rogers as he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work,” she said. “I am committed to standing with you in the work that needs to be done, and I will support you as you continue to support and defend our nation and our state.”

The Michigan National Guard had strong participation in Whitmer’s inauguration ceremony including a performance by the 126th Army Band. A 19-gun salute was fired by the 119th Field Artillery, and a flyover of the Capitol was conducted by UH-60 Black Hawks from the 3-328th Aviation Battalion. Airmen and soldiers from the Michigan National Guard also participated in an Honor Guard formation during the presentation of colors and national anthem.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][qt-spacer][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeIn”]

Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Michigan National Guard adjutant general, speaks during the adjutant general change of responsibility ceremony, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer looks on, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (photo by Andrew Layton).

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