Feb. 5, 2003 – A few members of the V.I. National Guard are on their way to Virginia to join a water purification team taking part in Operation Enduring Freedom.
V.I. National Guard spokesman Osbert Potter said on Wednesday that the soldiers, who left the territory this week, are part of the 786th Quartermaster Water Supply Battalion.
He said military policy prevented him from giving the number of V.I. personnel being deployed but described the number as "less than 10."
"It's a combination of individuals from St. Thomas and St. Croix," Potter said. "The deploying members all have the Military Occupational Speciality of 77W, Water Treatment Specialists. These soldiers specialize in the storage and distribution of water once it has been purified. They are also trained to purify water."
Many of the 770 members of the V.I. National Guard specialize in water purification, water distribution, engineering, medical, maintenance and military police duties. The current deployment order represents the first time Virgin Islands personnel have been called to active duty in connection with the situation in Iraq, Potter said.
V.I. guard members were activated to serve during U.S. actions in Bosnia during the 1990s, and in 2000 they were deployed to Venezuela to assist that country after a natural disaster.
Through monthly training conducted in the territory on weekends and traveling to specialty training assignments around the country, V.I.N.G. members gain the expertise needed to support the U.S. Armed Forces when necessary, he said.
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