NEW ORLEANS, La. – As a token of appreciation for hosting more than 1,100 members of the United States National Guard at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to stage for Hurricane Ida response, members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team bestowed highly regarded honors upon the venue.
The convention center was awarded the prestigious Minuteman Award, which recognizes exceptional achievement, a patriotic act, highly distinguished service, or an outstanding contribution to a military organization, community, state, nation, and to the National Guard.
“We appreciate you all for the job that you do,” said Lt. Col. Marc Prymek. “You all allowed us to focus on saving lives, protecting critical infrastructure, and doing our jobs out there to secure our communities. It is what we love to do, and you all made it easy for us.”
Accepting on behalf of staff, convention center president Michael J. Sawaya remarked, “My title means that I am the general of this great team, these troops, but it is the people here and their leader, our vice president of operations, Adam Straight, who are to thank for this high honor.”
Lt. Col. Prymek also honored Rose Lehn, the convention center’s director of food and beverage, with the Louisiana National Guard Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, which is given to citizens of Louisiana who have rendered exceptionally meritorious service in furthering the security and welfare of the state.
“Ms. Lehn’s remarkable leadership and loyal care for our soldiers, sailors, and airmen directly correlated with high morale and mission success,” said Lt. Col. Prymek. “Her commitment to excellence has far exceeded expectations and left a lasting impression on every soldier of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.”
The convention center has played an essential role in providing the space and resources for critical recovery missions following Hurricane Ida. In addition to providing space to the National Guard for their base of operations to assist with recovery throughout southeast Louisiana, the convention center was also put into service as a hub for transportation assistance for those who needed to be relocated to shelters following the storm. The Louisiana Department of Health also utilized convention center space to set up a medical special needs monitoring station. During city-wide power outages, it accommodated up to 50 patients at a time who depended on oxygen and electricity for issues such as dialysis and heart monitoring.
Throughout the disaster and into the recovery, the convention center has been able to keep their team working, with no storm-related layoffs or furloughs.