Guard’s 7th Civil Support Team supports agencies at All-Star baseball
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Posted: Monday, July 20, 2009 11:22 pm
Sgt. 1st Class Juan Gallego, of the 7th CST, monitors a man hole outside Gate 3 of Busch Stadium during the All Star Game.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (July 20, 2009) — For 1st Lt. Jean LeGall, spending three days with the 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team supporting civilian authorities at the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities was the right combination of work and play.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said LeGall, the unit’s physician assistant. “We got to go there and work with the secret service. That was a lot of fun, and they were very appreciative of us being there.”
The team’s mission was to support the St. Louis Fire Department by checking the stadium and its patrons for potential hazards, said Lt. Col. Raymond White, unit commander.
“One of our tasks was to monitor for abnormal radiation readings,” said White, of Fort Leonard Wood. “During the course of the three days, we encountered numerous individuals who had recently had medical treatment involving radiation. We identified them and verified the authenticity of their medical treatment.”
The 22-person team, made up of both Army and Air National Guardsmen, uses high-tech equipment to investigate potential hazards, including mass sickness, mysterious powders and unidentified contaminations. About half the team was staged in or near the stadium, while the other half remained on standby at home in Fort Leonard Wood.
Nothing out of the ordinary was discovered by the unit.
“We were lucky that we didn’t have any big incidents, which is always good, and everything went like clockwork with the President there,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie Turner, one of the unit’s two reconnaissance team chiefs.
The unit performed its function at Sunday’s attractions, which included the All-Star Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrities Softball Game, Monday’s Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game. The Guardsmen monitored most of the time at Busch Stadium gates 2 and 3, as well as the media and VIP entrance. They also occasionally roamed the stadium to do the same type of monitoring.
“We were just working all around the stadium, checking for anything suspicious,” said LeGall, of Waynesville. “In the process, we were right there and could see some of the game and activities. That was very pleasant.”
During those events, the response to the Guard presence from baseball fans was enthusiastic with a touch of the ‘rock star’ treatment.
“The interaction that we had with the people going to the game, coming to us and saying, ‘Thank you for what you do,’ was great,” LeGall said. “People are stopping us and saying, ‘Can we please take pictures with you?’ The citizens are very appreciative of what we do. They even offered us free tickets, shook our hands and gave us hugs.”
Staff Sgt. Robyn Boatright, the other recon team chief, said she had similar experiences.
“I just dealt with a lot of fans,” said Boatright, of Success. “It’s kind of cool because it shows how strong the support from our communities and country is toward Soldiers. Without their support, it would make our job virtually impossible. They all wanted to thank me, but at the same time, I returned the thank you to them because it’s their support that makes it possible.”
While performing their duties, several Guardsmen saw celebrities such as the rapper, Nelly, R&B singer, Ginuwine, actress, Alyssa Milano and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Turner was tasked with searching vehicles as well as the gear of the Cardinals Fredbird and five other Major League Baseball mascots.
“It was just another great time serving and supporting the state,” said Turner, of Iberia. “I ended up searching vehicles. I worked shoulder to shoulder with the secret service, doing what needed to be done. Tuesday, I ended up searching all VIPs that came through from the owner of the stadium, to the mascots, to media. Any vehicle that came through was thoroughly searched by my section.”
Turner also got the chance to again meet ESPN’s Chris Berman, who he had previously met while supporting the 2006 World Series as a Guardsman.
“We talked to him and shook his hand,” Turner said. “He was running late to get in, so it was real quick. He remembered me. He got a bunch of pictures with us at the World Series.”
Sgt. Chester Romine, recon team member, got to work in the media room.
“That was pretty awesome,” said Romine, of St. James. “I got to see all the media coming through, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and a few other people.”
The mission, however, wasn’t all just good times for the team as there was plenty of training time for and by the unit.
“Working with so many different agencies — from local, to state, to federal — in a real-world situation was a very valuable learning experience,” White said. “Being able to network and work with all of these different agencies was fantastic. Our mission is to support the civil authorities, and that’s exactly what we did. It was wonderful to see how all of the agencies came together and worked to accomplish the task of providing a safe and secure environment for an event.
“Also during our deployment to St. Louis, we provided instruction to the St. Louis Fire Department Hazmat team on equipment both teams use.”
Other organizations involved with the mission were FBI, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Energy, St. Louis Police Department and Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
“It’s good to work with all the agencies,” Turner said.