In a State of the State speech filled with talk of legislative priorities, Gov. Mike Pence paused to praise emergency responders — including one from Terre Haute — called into action during last week’s arctic storm, which paralyzed much of Indiana.
In addition to recognizing police, fire, EMS and highway workers, Pence singled out for special praise the state’s citizen-soldiers who belong to the Indiana National Guard.
They were deployed as part of the Highway Assistance Teams to rescue stranded Hoosiers and assist local first responders in the midst of the storm.
Representing the Air National Guard, at Pence’s invitation, was Staff Sgt. Nicholas Leis of Terre Haute, a member of the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron, 181st Intelligence Wing.
A little over a year ago, he was in the 110-degree heat of Afghanistan. Last Monday, he was traveling with 10 members of squad on the roads of Putnam County, where the wind chill dipped into sub-zero temperatures.
“It was pretty cold, but the training we get and the clothing were given was plenty to handle that,” said Leis. It was his first stateside mission since returning from Afghanistan.
“It was an honor to serve my county in Afghanistan, but just as much of honor to come back and serve the citizens of the state that I’m a member of,” Leis said.