NEWS | Sept. 17, 2020

Joint Task Force Pioneer helps Utahns clean up wind debris

By Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stowell Utah National Guard

Nearly 300 members of the Utah National Guard responded to an activation order to help clean up debris caused by windstorms in Northern Utah last week. 

Soldiers and Airmen who were part of Joint Task Force Pioneer brought excavators, loaders, trucks, chainsaws and a heavy dose of community service to help neighbors in Davis County and northern Salt Lake County remove debris caused by hurricane-force winds. 

Army Maj. Blake Bingham led the task force. 

“Part of our ‘Minutemen’ legacy includes a mandate to get boots on the ground swiftly and begin rendering aid to those in need immediately,” said Bingham, who also serves as the commander of the 1457th Engineer Battalion. 

Most of the Soldiers in Joint Task Force Pioneer came from his unit, along with Soldiers from the 118th Transportation Company, Airmen from the 151st Refueling Wing, and service members assigned to the Utah Training Center. 

During the six days of major operations, the task force deployed more than 50 pieces of heavy equipment to haul away over 6,200 cubic yards of green waste. 

Farmington city officials said it would have taken them months to move that amount of debris. 

The task force got the order to mobilize last Thursday. Soldiers and Airmen began moving on Friday and worked through the weekend and into the week. 

They helped clean up areas identified by civil authorities across 27 different sites among various municipalities, including Kaysville, Farmington, Centerville, Bountiful, Rose Park, and Salt Lake City.

Army Sgt. Hayden Taylor is a team leader in the 118th Transportation Company. His unit made dozens of trips hauling debris and green waste from from temporary sites around Davis County to the landfills.

“We live in these communities. It’s important that we give back to where we live,” said Taylor. 

Governor Herbert activated the National Guard nine years ago for the same type of mission. He visited Guard members at one of the temporary sites in Bountiful on Saturday, where he talked about the spirit of community.

"Team Utah is a reality. It's a lifestyle. That spirit of collaboration isn't found everywhere. You represent what unites us," said Herbert to the Soldiers and Airmen. 

The Adjutant General of Utah, Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, was also on hand with the governor. 

“The reason that Utah is such a great place to live is because people like you are willing to do what you are here doing right now to help others,” Turley said. 

“The biggest takeaway from this event is how great it is to be in the National Guard,” said Bingham. “Soldiers and Airmen of Joint Task Force Pioneer have demonstrated that the Utah National Guard stands ready to assist in times of emergency to the citizens of the state of Utah.”