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      Operation Polar Vortex, 174th Air Guard volunteers

      T he call from Governor's Cuomo's office to mobilize the National Guard as part of "Operation Polar Vortex" came Mondaynight and within minutes 20 volunteers from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Air Base had already signed up and began turning volunteers away.

      T he men and women of the 174th are trained for combat , but they're also trained to respond to civilian disasters. They were called upon during Hurricane Sandy and last summer's flooding in Oneida County. This time around they're prepared to go into the extreme cold and snow to help stranded motorists, families who may be stuck in their homes or assist local municipalities whose personnel may be overwhelmed by the immensity of the storm.

      L ieutenant Colonel Edward Cook says the volunteers are eager to serve. "We have 20 but we have also a large standby list of volunteers who would love to participate. People love giving back to the community. They like being active members of the unit in our state and federal missions."

      T he volunteers from the 174th are expected to be deployed to western New York where they will join with other National Guard units from Utica and two others from Niagara Falls.