Roughly 80 members of the Hawaii National Guard gathered in Pahoa Thursday morning to help with security patrols.
Troops are assisting at road blocks to keep the public away from advancing lava.
Teams in desert- or green-colored jungle Humvees are also patrolling neighborhoods affected by its flow.
Each soldier is volunteering his or her time, working in 24-hour shifts, to protect the community.
“It was easy to get volunteers to come in for this mission because it means so much for them. A lot of them live in the affected areas or have family in the direct path of this lava flow,” said Maj. Jeff Hickman. “This is a great mission for our soldiers and airmen and they have an opportunity to serve their community and this is what they joined for. You get recruited to help your community in time of need and a lot of these personnel assisted with Iselle cleanup and now they’re assisting with this one, so there’s a lot of pride going on with this mission.”
Spc. Courtney Manliguis is one of those soldiers and has been with the Hawaii Army National Guard for six years. She spent part of the day manning a road block on Pahoa Village Road, across from the Pahoa Post Office.
“Of course there’s not as much police officers as there are National Guard soldiers out there, so it’s a really big help, so it’s good to be working with the local police officers,” she said. “I feel good about it. It’s helping people I probably wouldn’t be able to be help out all the time.”
As for their uniforms, “since we are asked by the county to assist them, the police felt we should be wearing protective gear as much as possible, just as a worse case scenario, so we decided to put them in a Kevlar helmet and also with the vest,” said Maj. Hickman. “It is a little hot. It is uncomfortable to wear, but they are soldiers and airmen and I think they can handle the extra uniform.”