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NEWS | Nov. 9, 2022

Soldier’s desire to learn proves value in Colorado National Guard

By U.S. Army Sgt. Elizabeth Clark

U.S. Army Sgt. Liam Seagle, utilities equipment repairer, Colorado National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, said he discovered early in life his interest in working with his hands and exploring solutions to problems.

The CERFP responds to CBRNE incidents and assists local, state, and federal agencies with consequence management by providing capabilities to conduct patient and mass casualty decontamination, emergency medical services, and casualty search and extraction. The unit is comprised of Army and Air National Guard personnel to create a flexible force to combat fallout from large-scale incidents.

“Many people don’t know what the CERFP actually does or why we were made,” said Seagle. “The reason the CERFP was created was to respond to a 10-kiloton nuke, but we learned about equipment and strategies that can translate to other missions.”

Seagle said he chose his military occupation because it was convenient, cost-effective, and fit with his personal interests. Convenient in that his first unit in Longmont, Colorado, was located between home and school.  Cost-effective because the military occupational specialty had an incentive to help him pay back his student loans.  He has a personal interest in learning how the world works and becoming a good mechanic.

“I just love working with my hands and taking things apart in order to repair and rebuild,” he said. “We do a lot of troubleshooting and use problem-solving techniques that are a big help when we get people safe or repair structures.”

A love of the outdoors that his dad cultivated and a desire to learn how the world works led to Seagle studying environmental conservation biology and science. After studying marine biology in Hawaii, he began volunteering at a sea-turtle hatchery in Costa Rica.

“I knew that I wanted to study more of the conservation side of biology,” said Seagle. “I ended up moving back to Colorado and found the Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology degree program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.”

During his first few years at CSU, Seagle took introductory military science classes, and he said that these classes made him realize he had an interest in the Army. He took a semester off to go to basic training and advanced individual training and came back the next semester. Seagle joined the National Guard and was able to finish his degree while serving.

Now he contributes his civilian professional training and military occupational training and puts them into the specialized team with hundreds of other Soldiers who have their own knowledge and background.

The 147th Brigade Support Battalion is one of the units responsible for staffing the Army side of the CERFP, for teams such as search and rescue that Seagle is part of, while the Air National Guard supplies the medical teams.

Seagle’s job within the unit is as the logistics Non-commissioned Officer, a role that was new to him when first assigned. But thanks to the diversity of experience with which he is surrounded, he was able to rely on the knowledge of his peers.

Colorado’s use of National Guard members for the COVID-19 pandemic response is an example of the ability to use training and equipment from the CERFP unit to respond to incidents like a national health crisis. Not only is that a subset of the CERFP’s mission, sustainment soldiers in the unit also have background in the medical, police and fire department sides and bring their individual experiences into the fold.

“Even if we are at the same site, the approach changes depending on personnel and experience,” said Seagle. “Search and extraction teams were chosen from medical sides, fire fighters, police officers, emergency room nurses.  Some of the mechanics are brand new people to the Army who are fresh and have new perspectives while others are senior with hands-on experience.”

“We have warehouse managers in our unit.  They’re used to managing large quantities of personnel and equipment, and I relied on their experience when I was learning my duties as the logistics NCO,” he said.

The CERFP provides Soldiers with the opportunity to be part of the team full-time, such as Seagle, or join the unit part-time and report to their individual units such as the mechanics with the 365th Engineer Battalion or the medics with the 928th Area Support Medical Company.

Thanks to Seagle’s background as a mechanic, this unit presented him an opportunity to support the local community and learn new skills in this specialized team.

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