JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
More than 600 New Jersey National Guard members went to the polls on June 8, 2021, at the request of the Boards of Elections in 15 New Jersey counties. Following the successful Guard support of the 2020 primary and general elections, Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen mobilized again to assist civilian poll workers and county staff during the 2021 New Jersey state primary.
“I’m very pleased that the Governor got the National Guard to help with the election process,” said John W. Mooney, Commissioner, Atlantic County Board of Elections. “Right now they’re assisting at polling locations, helping the workers there. We need all the help we get.”
Guardsmen were spread out throughout the counties, integrating directly with civilian poll workers at numerous locations.
“Voters come in, and we check them in the book and verify their signature, then assist getting them to the voting booth,” said Airman 1st Class Angel Castillo, an aircraft electrician with the 177th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who was working out of a polling spot at the Oceanville Volunteer Fire Company in Galloway Township, N.J. “It feels awesome to give back to the community when they need me.”
Airman 1st Class Carol Martinez, a public health technician with the 177th Medical Group, was directly serving her own community. The Absecon resident was assigned to a polling site not far from her home.
“I didn’t think I would be close to my hometown, but it worked out that I’m here and it’s been really cool,” said Martinez. “I’ve been seeing people I grew up with and their parents, and it’s been full circle serving my own community. People have been asking me about the Guard, and I’ve been telling them about the work we do in our communities, not just on the base.”
In Burlington County, Master Sgt. Namir Laureano, an Administration Airman with the 108th Wing, was assisting city workers.
“It feels good to help out on this important day,” said Laureano. “Helping the community exercise one of their most important rights.”
For more than a year the New Jersey National Guard has been supporting local and state authorities, including Covid-19 testing sites, civil unrest, and Covid-19 vaccination sites.
“Our Soldiers and Airmen continue to step up and ensure that our citizens can be safe in their communities while we get back to finding a sense of normalcy,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Kennedy, commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard and Deputy Adjutant General of New Jersey. “I couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments.”