~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
Operation HAWKEYE
St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands
20 September ~ November 1989
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This Page Last Updated   6 March 2013
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13 September Hurricane Hugo, one of the most destructive weather systems ever recorded struck the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and portions of North and South Carolina and caused massive destruction before dissipating on 22 September.

        On St. Croix (Virgin Islands) the hurricane destroyed nearly all the life support systems for a population of over 50,000 people. The ensuing chaos and a total breakdown of law and order from the disarray of the police department resulted in widespread looting and general lawlessness throughout the island. Additionally, from 200 to 600 prisoners had escaped from the islands only terminal prison.

20 September the Island Governor requested federal assistance. President George H. W. Bush ordered the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to established a joint task force. Elements of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard, along with a contingent from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) formed Joint Task Force (JTF) 140 for Operation Hawkeye.

        Upon the issuance of presidential disaster declarations, the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command, was designated action agent for DOD support in the Caribbean, and the Commander in Chief, Forces Command, was given responsibility for the continental United States.

        Among the first units to arrive from the United States were a command element from XVIII Airborne Corps to include the 16th MP Brigade (Airborne), the 503d MP Battalion (Airborne), all from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They were joined by the 720th MP Battalion, which consisted of the 410th and 411th MP Companies from Fort Hood, Texas; and the 258th MP Company (Gator's) from Fort Polk, Louisiana; 463d MP Company (Solid Warriors) of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.


        Prohibited from enforcing civil law on St. Croix, a US protectorate, military police detained criminal suspects for possible arrest by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, US Marshals, or Virgin Island Police. Members of the 20th Engineer Brigade from Fort Bragg helped repair two prisons, removed debris, restored electrical power, and undertook minor repair and construction projects.

The 410th MP Company received national recognition for confiscating over 30 million dollars of cocaine during its mission assignments.

Support for JTF 140 included elements of the 1st Corps Support Command (COSCOM), also from Fort Bragg, and the 46th Support Group. This support included detachments from the 516th Military Intelligence Battalion, the 50th Signal Battalion, the 27th Engineer Battalion, the 407th Composite Support Battalion, the 49th Public Affairs Detachment, and the 4th Psychological Operations Battalion.

Medical support was provided by the 109th Evacuation Hospital, Alabama National Guard, which established a forty-bed medical care facility on St. Croix, and two medical teams from the 36th Medical Company, Fort Bragg.

Communications specialists from the 7th Signal Command, Fort Ritchie, Maryland, helped restore commercial telephone service on the islands. The Army also provided 106 electrical generators, a portable airport control tower, a laundry unit, water purification units, 81 vehicles, 3 OH-58C helicopters, and 200,000 meals, ready to eat (MRE).

Offshore, the USS Pensacola generated 30,000 additional gallons of potable water to refill reservoirs. In Puerto Rico, approximately twenty-eight hundred guardsmen were activated to aid in cleanup and recovery operations, assisted by a ten-member Corps of Engineer debris removal team.

Approximately forty-seven hundred uniformed personnel from all services participated in relief operations in the Caribbean.

November 410th and 411th MP Companies returned to Fort Hood, Texas.
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