NEW ORLEANS — 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 Convention Center.
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial 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 Lieutenant Colonel 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 the Convention Center staff, Michael J. Sawaya, Convention Center President 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 Ms. 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 of Louisiana.
“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. “Ms. Lehn’s commitment to excellence has far exceeded expectations and left a lasting impression on every soldier of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.”
Adam Straight, Vice President of Operations for the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and a nine-year veteran of the Coast Guard, also offered words of gratitude for the building’s honorable achievement. “It was my honor to be a small part of these great men and women that carried out the local recovery mission to our great city,” said Straight. “Our team played a pivotal role that started days before the storm and that even continues its importance today. They were here to cater, comfort, and support the soldiers and each other during this difficult time, and are the backbone of this operation, making them well-deserving of the honor bestowed upon them. It takes all of us and a consistent beat of the drum to be successful, and I am so proud, and humbled to serve with them.”
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 following the storm for those that needed to be relocated to shelters. 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 that 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. The Convention Center staff worked diligently throughout this challenging time to meet the needs of first responders, and they are honored to be recognized for their efforts.