The National Guard Armory in Austintown, will be opening its doors to the community on June 30. It will be the first open house in several decades.
"We've done community activities outside the armory," said SFC Sam Wolford of Austintown. "We felt it would be a good opportunity for an open house and let the community come in and see what we do."
The Armory houses two different groups, the 838th Military Police unit and Bravo Company of the 237th Support Battalion. It also houses an office for the recruiting command.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
SPC Robert Pluche and Sgt. Michael Hopkins handle some vehicle repairs to one of the Austintown National Guard Armory’s medium tactical vehicles. The vehicles, along with several others, will be on display during the armory’s open house in June.
The 838th is basically the police force of the military. They are trained for police action and are ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. Presently, some of the soldiers from the unit are being deployed in Afghanistan.
Bravo Company is a support unit that follows other National Guard units, whether local or overseas. The mission of this unit is simple keep the vehicles and equipment operational. Much of that is handled with an 1152 Up-Armored Contact Truck. The truck is a Humvee that contains a mobile mechanics shop. It has all the tools and equipment to make most repairs right on the road. Whether traveling Ohio or the roads of Afghanistan, Bravo Company follows convoys and ensures the vehicles keep rolling. Often they have to make repairs while en route.
Bravo Company returned from a tour in Afghanistan recently, and Wolford, along with recruiter Sgt. Lee Keck and SFC Donald Partlow, talked about inviting the community to see what happens at the armory in their community. In a short time, the men had designated the open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 30 to allow the community to come and see their armory and talk to the soldiers who work and train there.
The event will be a family affair. Stations will be set up to showcase some of the armory's vehicles as well as equipment and arms the soldiers train on every week. In the armory's large gymnasium, an inflatable obstacle course for visitors to navigate.
"Our soldiers will also be here for visitors to talk to one-on-one," Wolford said. "Our overall intent is not to make this a recruiting drive. We simply want to develop and improve our community relationship."
For those who want information on joining the Guard, Keck will be on hand to show what is available to a new recruit, including schooling and benefits.
Wolford said it is better for the community to be introduced to the local Guard at an event like this as opposed to a natural disaster. He said the Guard units at the armory can be put into action for anything from a flood or hurricane to a tornado like the one that went through Niles in the 1980s.
While a good number of the 838th MPs will be overseas in June, they will still have a presence during the open house.
"Some members of the 838th will still be here for the event," Partlow said. "We will have a Humvee and an armored vehicle on display."
Wolford and Partlow said they are hoping to make the open house an annual event for the community.