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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2021

Georgia National Guard honors Marietta firefighters for swift water rescue training

By Cpl. Rydell Tomas

Soldiers and Airmen with the Georgia National Guard attended an award ceremony Sept. 27, 2021, at the Marietta Fire Museum to honor the selfless service of some of the Marietta Fire Department’s outstanding firefighters.

The ceremony recognized Marietta Fire Department firefighters that travelled to the country of Georgia and conducted swift water rescue training with the Georgia National Guard and Georgian Defense Forces during exercise Agile Spirit 21.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, The Adjutant General of the Georgia, was one of the main speakers during the ceremony.

“An organization that fails to celebrate success has less success to celebrate,” said Carden. “We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate these outstanding firefighters.”

Agile Spirit 21 was a joint multinational exercise under the U.S. European Command's Joint Exercise Program located the Vaziani Training Area, Orpholo and Senaki Air Base, Georgia, July 26-Aug. 6. Agile Spirit 21 promoted readiness, partnership, interoperability and theatre operations.

The Marietta Fire Department created the swift water rescue course in 2009. The course trains lifesaving methods in a flood or swift waters caused by heavy rains, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The training proved to be extremely valuable. During the training in Borjormi, Georgia, Marietta Fire Department firefighters rescued tourists that fell into rushing waters while on a rafting excursion.

Ron Presley, a Marietta Fire Department firefighter at the rescue scene, spoke about the incident and why swift water rescue training is such an important asset to utilize.

“Last year, we taught Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers from the 201st [Regional Support Group], and they enjoyed the program,” said Presley. “Our job is to train you guys, and they train themselves.”

The Georgia National Guard has formal partnership agreements with the country of Georgia and Argentina under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. Formed in October 1994, the Georgia-to-Georgia partnership is one of the oldest agreements in the program’s history. The Georgia National Guard and Argentina partnered together in 2006.

The country of Georgia hosts joint, multinational exercises every year which the Georgia National Guard deploys participants to sustain the partnership and interoperability. The two organizations also conduct many smaller training events, like seminars and classes, throughout the year in-person and digitally.

The implementation of the Marietta Fire Department’s swift water rescue training program across agencies and countries is an addition to the Georgia National Guard's commitment to fostering partnerships and building interoperability.

“This partnership increases our interoperability,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Colin Thompson, director of the Georgia National Guard’s State Partnership Program. “It’s a mutual benefit to both countries that strengthen the economy and security.”