Camp Grayling, National Guard Prepares To Aid Hurricane-Ravaged Florida

A sound similar to rolling thunder could be heard in Crawford County on Monday.

It was the sound of a gigantic military convoy preparing to leave Northern Michigan.

The National Guard is sending help to Florida.

The Michigan Army National Guard is sending more than 1,000 soldiers to the South where they are badly needed.

That includes hundreds of troops from Camp Grayling.

Each has the same goal: help everyone left in Hurricane Irma’s destructive shadow.

“We are going to go where we are needed,” says Sgt. Austin Weiler, 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry. “Where that might be, who knows?”

It’s an effort that will take an entire army.

Soldiers all across Michigan, including Roscommon teacher Sgt. Weiler, are packing up to head to hurricane-ravaged Florida.

“We don’t necessarily train to take care of natural disasters such as this but I’m confident in the leaders that we have and all the way down to the lowest ranking soldier,” Sgt. Weiler says. “We’ll do the job that is required and we’ll do it well.”

Around 425 soldiers are in Camp Grayling from the 3rd Battalion of the 126th Infantry, alongside 120 vehicles will all go down to Florida to access people in multiple ways.

“It takes a lot of preparation, especially when you start talking about the sheer size of the group going down,” Sgt. Weiler says.

They aren’t alone.

Other teams, including chinook helicopters and infantry, will bring valuable resources to the south, be it on foot or by air.

“We’ve had to do a lot of preparation in a little bit of time,” says SSG Christine Palmer of Grayling.

Companies from Detroit, Dowagiac, Grayling, Cadillac and beyond join the ranks.

Another 570 from Lansing will do the same next weekend, each with food kits and supplies.

“I’m kind of anxious to see how it’s going to be when we get there,” SSG Palmer says. “We can only prepare so much before we actually get down there and see what’s going on. It feels great to be able to make a difference, wherever we can.”

The Camp Grayling convoy is Florida-bound on Tuesday afternoon.