Northern Nevada Guardsmen Train in Las Vegas On New Year's Eve - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Northern Nevada Guardsmen Train in Las Vegas On New Year's Eve

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LAS VEGAS — About 400 Nevada guardsmen will train in association with Las Vegas Metro Police at various locations on and off the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve this year for the 12th annual Vigilant Sentinel training exercise. More than half of the guardsmen participating are from Northern Nevada. About 300,000 people are expected to party on the Las Vegas Strip on Monday, according to Las Vegas Metro Police.

Guardsmen positions range from manning various locations in and around the Las Vegas Strip and helping with security at McCarran International Airport. The exercise begins Sunday, Dec. 30 and ends Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Northern Nevada units participating include: the 152nd Security Forces Squadron, the 485th Military Police Company, the 106th Public Affairs Detachment and the 757th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, Nevada National Guard. Soldiers of the 609th Engineering Company, of Fallon, are standing by New Year's Eve as a quick reaction force as part of the training.

Several Nevada Guard units rotate each year for the exercise. This year, most of the units are from Northern Nevada.

Northern Nevada Guard members Staff Sgt. Ignacio Gonzalez of Carson City and Staff Sgt. Matthew Kuhfuss of Reno, with the 485th Military Police Company of Stead, were asked questions on the training exercise and what they have seen in the past. Gonzalez and Kuhfuss have participated in the exercise twice: 2008 and 2009. The 485th deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and returned this summer.


The following interviews were done by Nevada Army National Guard Sgt. Emerson Marcus with the 106th Public Affairs Detachment:

Staff Sgt. Ignacio Gonzalez, of Carson City (full-time job is as a Douglas County sheriff's deputy)

What's it like to be away from family on New Year's Eve?

"To tell you the truth, I work a law enforcement job (with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office) where I would have been away from my family anyway. It's good because we know what we are doing is helping out. That's the way we look at it. Helping out airport security and Las Vegas Metro Police, that's what makes it worthwhile."

What have you done for the training exercise?

"The first time I was down there I was doing more of a logistical role, making sure the soldiers were in the positions that they were assigned to at the airport; making sure they were patrolling in the baggage terminals and throughout the airport. During the second year I was on one of the details where I patrolled the baggage claim area. We had some minor incidents we were able to help local law enforcement with and the soldiers reacted really well."

What do you guys run into during the New Year's Eve exercise?

"Mostly you run into people who are thankful you are there and want to thank you for your service. It's a way for the National Guard to interact with the public. Everyone wants to come and say ‘Thank you. We appreciate you. We appreciate what you do and having to be away from your family (on New Year's Eve).'

"We've had some highly intoxicated people come through (the airport). Our job is to take care of them and call for local law enforcement when that happens. Some are so intoxicated they can't take care of themselves. That happened to me twice at least and I know other soldiers have had that situation. We had situations where local law enforcement was looking for a person and gave the description out to all the soldiers and airmen. The soldiers and airmen used that to detain the person so local law enforcement could get to them. Mostly minor incidents, but it helps local law enforcement deal with what is going on."


Staff Sgt. Matthew Kuhfuss, of Reno, (full-time job as a technician for the Nevada National Guard)

What is it like to be away from family on New Year's Eve?

"First year we were out there I was assigned to baggage control, just looking for suspicious packages. Second time, the first half of the mission, we did the same thing and toward the end I got moved to security checkpoint…

"It's the most handshakes and ‘thank yous' you are ever going to get. Everybody else knows we are just there to help support and show our presence. Everyone is really appreciative."

What kind of stuff do you run into?

"We were doing baggage claim patrol. We had one guy, apparently it was his 21st birthday the night before — he was a New Year's baby. This was a morning shift. Some guy, he was 21 years old, approached us and he was really drunk, or dazed, or something. He basically told us he didn't know how he got to the airport. He couldn't find his friends. He didn't have his wallet so he couldn't call for a cab. We tried calling his buddies, but this was the morning after so they were all asleep."

So he was in an airport and he didn't know where he was going?

"He didn't know how he got there. He had a hotel and we couldn't get a hold of his friends to pick him up. He said he didn't have any money. Me and another soldier, we talked to a cabbie, and we covered his fare and got him out of there. He was wasted and he had no idea what was going on. He wasn't really stumbling or anything like that, but he flagged us down and we helped him as much as we could. I just thought it was funny — weird way to spend your 21st birthday not remembering anything you did. That's just some of the stuff we run into."

106th Public Affairs Detachment Media Release
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