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Alaska Army National Guard Team Wins Environmental Security Award

Alaska Army National Guard Team Wins Environmental Security Award

The National Guard Bureau has officially recognized the Alaska Army National Guard’s Restoration Team for their exceptional accomplishments in restoring unattended armory sites to a clean and sound state for transferring to outside organizations.

The award identified four environmental compliance professionals– Donald Flournoy, Alyssa Murphy, Aaron Acena and Patrick Geary. Each member has the responsibility of identifying potential contaminates from disused armory property, developing a plan and collaborating, all in accordance with Alaska National Guard policy. The team also ensures safety for local residents by neutralizing and cleaning up hazardous areas.

“There are a lot of moving parts when beginning the divestiture of a site,” said Murphy, the environmental team lead. “There might be ‘legacy spills’ from previous years we need to clean up. We can’t check off a property unless we’re positive the past presence of the AKNG isn’t making a negative impact on the environment, the cultural resources and that there is no threat to human health.”

The team has managed the transformation and cleanup of 15 of the 62 former AKNG properties. This is a remarkable achievement, considering the unique challenges Alaska presents.

“In remote Alaska, it seems like everything you do takes ten times the amount of coordination and planning,” said Flournoy, the environmental branch chief. “There are a number of sites in the Interior that are accessible only by river or aircraft. Similar programs in other states just don’t have those sorts of obstacles limiting them.”

Aside from that, Alaska only has three to four months of summer, which means there is very little time when the weather is perfect for traveling. The award recognizes the extra effort of those involved, which was beyond what is normally required for such an undertaking.

“This award shines a light on a great achievement in teamwork,” said Geary, the environmental condition of property program manager. “People in other states sometimes wonder why we can’t just do site visits as soon as we need to. Well, we can’t just drive to do site visits. We need to plan for summer, good conditions, lodging, and arrange flights. And then there’s the weather.”

The team stated that they were able to agree on the importance of their work for Alaska and what it means in the future for similar projects despite the logistics involved.

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“I have a great sense of pride in everybody involved,” Flournoy said, voicing his appreciation for his team. “They’re boots on the ground, making everything happen. Like most Alaskans they are proud of our natural resources and want the land to be stewards. It is an honor to protect those things and make a tangible difference in that regard.”

This award draws national attention to an important initiative that is vital to the mission readiness and validates the professionalism of the Environment Restoration Team.

“I feel a lot of gratitude being part of this team,” said Murphy. “And it’s extremely rewarding to be recognized for our group efforts to restore properties to their rightful condition.”

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