Story By Senior Airman Tristan D. Viglianco
Michigan National Guard
GRAYLING, Mich. -- The Northern Strike 20 community day, held July 28, 2020, featured a public demonstration of live fire from the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and Army artillery pieces at Camp Grayling. Northern Strike is the National Guard’s premier joint fires readiness event, which builds overall readiness by advancing interoperability between multicomponent, multinational, and interagency partners.
The demo would not have been possible without the help of various community partners, especially the Frederic Township Fire Department who provided emergency response coverage.
“We are providing fire protection and emergency medical services for all of the participants,” said Allen Ballard, FTFD public information officer. “We are also operating in conjunction with the Lovells Fire Department.”
The fire department’s support for Northern Strike 20 is just another chapter in the nearly 60 year-long relationship with Camp Grayling and the Michigan National Guard.
“Geographically, our department covers quite a bit of the property Camp Grayling operates on during exercises,” said Ballard. “The military is very good about training with us. We are able to go to their events, learn their lingo, so we can be an asset and provide them with coverage.”
According to Ballard, the FTFD has the contract to provide fire support on Camp Grayling, which includes structural fire protection, hazmat, and medical response.
The support the fire department provides for Northern Strike is appreciated by the military members on post as well.
“It is a good relationship for both entities, said Sgt. 1st Class Link Hibernig Camp Grayling facilities operations specialist. “Camp Grayling gets the fire and emergency services support needed during the heavy training season, which of course, in turn, helps the Soldiers, our employees, and our visitors.”
The fire department also makes an effort to hire veterans. Mick Griffin, a FTFD firefighter and emergency medical technician, is one of those veterans. He retired from the Army after serving more than 20 years.
“I get to bring the knowledge gained in the military to the FTFD,” said Griffin. “It is fulfilling getting to work with the military. When we are working with the military I understand the jargon and I am able to answer any questions when they arise.”
The long-lasting relationship built between Camp Grayling and the FTFD means the department has supported the Maneuver Readiness Center since the inception of Northern Strike and will continue to support the exercise in the future at the newly rebranded National All-Domain Warfighting Center.
“We are here not for us, but to support the military, said Ballard. “We love and support our military.”