CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina National Guard 1st Lt. Darrion Lemon, 1221st Clearance Company, was working recently with other Guard members from the 122nd and 178th Engineer Battalions to repair roads in Manning, South Carolina.
The streets were destroyed by historic flooding that affected South Carolina during the month of October.
Lemon, 24, has been a Guard Soldier for three years and has no plans for getting out any time soon. He said that he takes pride in his status as a Guard member and the South Carolina National Guard as a whole.
“We are here to help our community. It’s a job that had to be done and someone had to do it,” said Lemon. “Why not me?”
Lemon is a platoon leader in his company and leads more than 20 troops when not responding to state emergencies. A platoon leader’s responsibilities include being a leader, individual Soldier development and managing training, morale and discipline. Lemon values all of these aspects but places a great value on Soldier development.
“My favorite thing about being a Soldier is taking care of my Soldiers, putting them first and fighting for them,” said Lemon. “Their care starts with me.”
In addition to his service in the Guard, Lemon also serves as a Charleston police officer after joining the police department last year. Before Lemon was activated by the Guard to respond to the flooding statewide, he was called to be a first responder with the police department near his own community in Charleston.
“There was terrible flooding in the downtown area of Charleston, which is where I usually patrol,” said Lemon. “This past month, my experience has been close to everyone else’s when responding to the flood, but multiplied by two.”
While his responsibilities were different as a Guard member and a police officer, Lemon saw first-hand the devastation that flooding caused residents, their property and businesses.
More than a month after being activated in response to flash floods, Lemon is still working with other Soldiers to provide residents with safe roadways by filling in sink holes, installing culverts and laying rock. The Soldiers’ mission is statewide recovery through infrastructure repairs.
“There is only one mission right now, and that is to get our state back to normal,” said Lemon.