Photo by Joe Chitwood
Nebraska National Guard Gen. Daryl Bohac
Photo by Joe Chitwood
SFC Kyle Demaree, from left, Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, CSM Marty Baker and SFC Timothy McCaslin.
The top brass visited "the amazing" 1075th National Guard Transportation Company of North Platte on Thursday.Nebraska National Guard Adjutant Gen.l-Air Force Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac and Guard State Commander Sgt. Maj. Marty Baker flew in from Lincoln via helicopter for a semi-annual visit.
“This is an amazing group with three detachments -- McCook, Broken Bow and Sidney,” Bohac said.
He said it is an important visit.
“First, the staff needs to see myself and other members of the team. We can’t stay in Lincoln all the time. That doesn’t fare well for the soldiers in this part of the state.”
Secondly, they observe the condition and operation of the facility, and they also talk to community leaders, to stay abreast of any concerns or issues.
The North Platte company is not as busy as it was when fighting peaked in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The peak years were 2006-10 when up to 1,500 soldiers were deployed. Currently, about 200 Nebraska Guard are out of the country, Bohac said.
“We have a large group in Kuwait and Iraq. They will be coming home in July, after being gone about a year,” he said. “And, we have a smaller group of 50 or so at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba -- only 90 miles off the coast of Florida but it is still out of the United States.”
The current rate of deployments will probably be the steady rate in terms of what is going on in the world and the Department of Defense’s use of military forces, he said, but that doesn’t mean the guard is not busy.
The last big response was in 2012 to help control wildfires in western Nebraska. That year, not just in Guard operations but overall, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency spent more than $5 million of the governor’s emergency funds to fight fires.
Bohac said there have been 4-5 responses, where smaller groups helped in tornadoes, security support for law enforcement, flood evacuations or environmental emergencies.
He is the state director of the emergency management agency, in addition to his duties in the Guard.
Nebraska’s National Guard has changed, completing a two-year process of transformation. For a long time, companies west of Grand Island were transportation assets, but now North Platte is one of just two remaining transportation companies in the state.
“In Chadron, we put in a military police company and that unit is already full,” he said. “It has only been open about one year. That is pretty amazing. We were over-invested in transportation.”
Recruiting has been good and interest is high.
“It is not only because of less deployments, but because our folks do a really good job of setting up a demanding and rigorous training program,” Bohac said. “If they come to a weekend drill and have nothing to do and are bored, they will not stay in, but our full-time staff does a great job of making sure that doesn’t happen.”
He encourages young people to consider the Guard.
“First and foremost, you are going to be a better person. We are going to help you be more disciplined, offer you leadership training, develop your skills and allow you to be part of something larger than yourself,” he said.
Along with that, the Guard offers educational and insurance benefits.
“With the good insurance plan in your back pocket, you take it to an employer -- you can imagine what a great asset you will be to them,” he said.
Bohac is second-in-command of the Guard, next to the governor. He has served in the military for 39 years.
“I started out as an enlisted person in the Marine Corp Reserves as a heavy equipment mechanic, believe it or not, and here I am now. I wouldn’t have expected that,” he said.
Bohac said there are about 3,600 soldiers in the Nebraska Army National Guard and 970 Air National Guard airmen. Most of the airmen are stationed in Lincoln and Omaha, but the Guard is spread across 23 communities in the state.
After North Platte, Bohac and Baker left to visit Kearney, Grand Island and Hastings before returning to Lincoln on Saturday.