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NEWS | June 1, 2019

Illinois National Guard Soldiers Sandbag Along Winchester Levees

By Barbara Wilson

A 21-Soldier crew is among the 200 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment ordered to State Active Duty by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The Soldiers arrived in Quincy Friday and hit the ground running Saturday.

These Soldiers began constructing a sandbag structure along the estimated 20 miles of levee system near Winchester, Illinois.

The process includes installing a basic wooden frame, lining the frame with plastic wrap and then building up the entire area with sandbags, according to Sgt. Joel Turner, of Davenport, Iowa.

"This is close to my home," said Capt. Patrick McGee, of Macomb, Illinois. "These are our neighbors, so if we can help, we have to try."

McGee wasn't surprised when the notice for State Active Duty came.

"With the weather the past few weeks, and the local warnings posted through the local weather officials, I wasn't surprised we were ordered to State Active Duty," he said.

McGee said the local community has been very helpful in assisting the Soldiers with flood duty.

"The local farmers have brought out their all-terrain vehicles and haul the sandbags from the staging area at the base of the levee to where the Soldiers are working," he said. "Inmates from the Illinois Department of Corrections load the sandbags and other materials onto the all-terrain vehicles, so they have been very helpful."