Friday, June 1, 2001

Virgin Island NG visited by ARNG director

Maj. Gen. Roger C. Schultz (far right), Army National Guard director, and members of the headquarters staff of the Virgin Islands Army National Guard prepare to board a Blackhawk helicopter May 19 at the airfield in St. Croix. Schultz flew to the ARNG armory in St. Thomas to meet with Samuel Ebbesen, the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for the Virgin Islands.
Army National Guard Director Maj. Gen. Roger C. Schultz visited with soldiers of the Virgin Islands National Guard May 18 through 20.

Schultz received a command briefing from Maj. David Canegata, the training administrator of the Virgin Islands National Guard, the morning of May 19 at the Headquarters Building in Christiansted. Following the formal briefing, Schultz invited staff members to discuss issues of concern to them. Schultz expressed his concern about the recruiting challenges in the Virgin Islands.

Brig. Gen. Cleave A. McBean, the adjutant general of the Virgin Islands National Guard, said that current Guard recruiting presentations should be localized to reflect the lives of Virgin Islanders.

Units within McBean's command are located on two different islands -- St. Croix and St. Thomas -- separated by 40 miles of water. Soldiers live on three islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. The distance from St. Thomas to St. John is three miles.

Maj. Michael McDonald, the counterdrug coordinator, noted that a budget for a National Guard program in the Virgin Islands does not stretch as far as it would in most states because of the high cost of living. He noted that 40 percent of his program budget is spent on entitlements.

Following the command briefing, Schultz was driven out to a field training exercise site on the coast of St. Croix to visit the troops of the 786th Water Supply Battalion. There he received a field briefing from the unit's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Caroline Adams.

Schultz toured the field site, stopping to meet and visit with soldiers. He presented the director's coin of excellence to Sgt. Robert Phipps and Sgt. Louin Chung, both of whom were named the honor graduates of their recent Advanced Individual Training schools.

The next stop on the itinerary was the National Guard armory in St. Croix, where Schultz ate lunch with soldiers of the 104th Troop Command. He spent several minutes visiting with Spc. Sylvester John, a medic with AMMED Detachment 5, discussing John's training experiences with the Guard as well as his military career aspirations.

After receiving a briefing on the 104th Troop Command, Schultz was driven to the aviation facility in St. Croix where he boarded a Blackhawk helicopter for St.Thomas. He met with Samuel Ebbesen, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for the Virgin Islands, at the National Guard Armory on St. Thomas. Ebbesen is president and chief executive officer of the local telephone company and a retired Army lieutenant general.

The morning of May 20, Schultz met with several headquarters staff members of the Virgin Islands National Guard over breakfast to discuss issues which need to be addressed at the national level.

(Editor's note: McElveen is a staff writer for the Director's Staff Group, Army National Guard, Arlington, Va.)