On the morning of 9-11, two pilots were on alert duty at the Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts when a call came through of a suspected hijacking. Due to the nature of the call and their previous experience, the airmen knew they should prepare to fly even though military orders had not yet been given. While air traffic officials worked with Northeast Air Defense Sector to give orders to mobilize military aircraft (also known as scramble authority), the pilots prepared themselves to fly into New York City. As soon as they received their orders, they took off—just 12 minutes after Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials called the base.
According to a National Guard publication, the airmen’s quick reactions put them in a key position to assist the FAA in identifying and escorting dozens of commercial aircraft to the ground as the country began the unprecedented action of grounding all commercial air traffic across the U.S. According to National Guard's website, by the end of the day on 9-11, more than 8,000 members of the Army National Guard had been mobilized: New York Air National Guard jets were conducting combat air patrols over cities, and Army National Guard Soldiers were assisting first responders in Manhattan.
Each state and U.S. territory maintains units of the National Guard and the Air National Guard. They are considered state and federal entities. As such, the governor serves as commander-in-chief and servicemen and women can be called to state duty to respond to emergencies such as fires, flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, or other homeland security situations. The President can also call them to duty to support military operations overseas or other national priorities. Their alignment to both state and federal governments sets them apart from the other military reserves, which only serve the federal military. When called to duty by a governor, the state pays for their services and when called to duty by the President, the federal government pays for their service. In general, they hold civilian jobs and live at home. They have a drill commitment of one weekend per month and are required to attend one two-week training each year.
Assistance with careers and college tuition expenses are some of the benefits. Full tuition is paid to any SUNY college or the highest SUNY rate to any private college. In addition, some students may qualify for a monthly stipend through the GI Bill. Both the Air National Guard and the National Guard help people qualify for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)--a college program which helps train officers (https://www.nationalguard.com/guard-experience/rotc) and Yellow Ribbon programs which assists veterans with college expenses (https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/yellow_ribbon.asp). Careers in engineering, military intelligence, aviation, technology, combat arms, supply specialists, and aircraft reviewers are just a few options people may choose from. For information, visit https://www.nationalguard.com/. New York also benefits from the New York Guard—a state volunteer force that supports the New York National Guard, http://dmna.ny.gov/nyg.
People do not need prior military experience to join but basic training is required. Anyone interested between the ages of 17-35 is encouraged to call a local recruiter. Those with prior military service may be accepted if they are older than 35 depending the time they have served prior. Oswego County residents may contact SGT Erica Loucks at 315-866-9429 or [email protected] Jefferson County residents may contact SGT John Poyneer at (315) 767-5960 or [email protected] Onondaga County residents may contact SGT Matthew Scarlett at 315-775-6770 or [email protected]
The 9-11 emergency response by the Air National Guard was chronicled in an article titled "The Air National Guard Responds on 9/11" in the New Patriot--a publication that focuses on the National Guard and Air National Guard. The full article can be found at https://media.defense.gov/2011/Sep/09/2001329946/-1/-1/0/EAN_9-11_spreads.pdf. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.