A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to fill the boots of CT National Guard members

New London

(WTNH) — It has been an incredibly busy year for the Connecticut National Guard. They have been overseas and in Washington, D.C. They have been protecting the home front from flooding and COVID.

News 8 got an opportunity to go on a mission with them to show you firsthand what they do day in and day out and what it takes to fill their boots.

As they took off for Camp Nett in Niantic, they flew over some of the swollen rivers and flooded areas hit hard by Henri. When they landed, News 8 talked to some of the guard called out for the storm.

“On Sunday, we were activated to help support with the hurricane… I am from Puerto Rico and when Maria passed by, I felt very helpless,” said Sgt. Luis Rodriguez-Veras of the Connecticut National Guard. “It was very emotional because I couldn’t do anything about it, and now that I am being activated to do something and to help my community, it feels a lot better to be able to be there and do something.”

They say every mission is different and they must be ready for whatever comes their way. It all starts at Camp Nett in Niantic with physical fitness and basic training.

“With helping out, setting up the hospitals and the screenings, the vaccination sites, where else can you get that sense of giving back,” said Sgt. Jaime Herrera Vega of the Connecticut National Guard.

The business end of the military, where they train firing their rifles, is not live fire but all digital instead. They do make it as realistic as possible so members are wearing all of the gear they’d be wearing in the field, which is around 50 pounds of gear. That’s how they have to dress to shoot to qualify.

“We train like we fight. It’s better to get as many repetitions with the actual equipment, what soldiers will be using when they go overseas,” said Sgt. Ian Brown of the Connecticut National Guard.

“It’s rewarding to see the fruits of my labor. I am not stuck behind a computer necessarily, I am able to get dirty, get a plane fixed and see it take off at the end of the runway,” said Sgt. Lee Morrison of the Connecticut National Guard.

“I’m proud of what I do and wherever I go, everybody knows I’m in the army,” Sgt. Rodriguez-Veras said.

If you want to join the National Guard, they are recruiting and because they have been so busy, they will put you right to work.

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