How Victoria’s Secret Plussed Up The 69th Infantry

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment are part of the New York Army National Guard, with the headquarters of the unit being at the famed Armory on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. So when Hurricane Sandy struck the northeast years ago, they responded by aiding the citizens of New York. Victoria’s Secret plussed up the unit to help with that relief effort, providing a great (and unique) example of how civilians are critical during times of need.

When a U.S. Army unit has an element added to it (often in the form of a company or detachment from another unit), troops will sometimes refer to the larger unit as being “plussed up” with the smaller one. So even as Victoria’s Secret may have eventually displaced the soldiers from the Armory (due to the annual VS fashion show being held there in 2012) it’s fair to say that prior to that an element of VS plussed up 69th Infantry Regiment for its response to Hurricane Sandy.

Wired reported on Nov. 2, 2012 that Victoria’s Secret provided generators to the Fighting 69th after the hurricane left “the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world.”

The article also noted that Victoria’s Secret was able to help the National Guard establish better comms.

The soldiers were still having communications problems, though. Many of the local cell towers were down, and so was the armory’s internet’s connection. Luckily, Shapiro had answer for that, too. For the show, he had leased a T1 line connected to a microwave dish on the roof. “We plopped two routers in their command center,” he says, “and now they’re sitting on our internet backbone.”

That support helped allow the 69th soldiers to deliver food and other aid to New York residents, including emergency assistance.

They assisted in the evacuation of Bellevue Hospital, bringing patients during 13 flights of stairs in the dark. Now, only a single patient remains — someone who required heart surgery, and was too frail to be moved. So two shifts of 30 troops are hauling diesel fuel up to the 13th floor, where the hospital’s generator is located, in order to keep the power running while this one patient recovers from the surgery.

Planning for disaster response is necessary. It helps society allocate resources and responders as best as possible. But planning can only go so far, because (as the military saying goes) no plan survives first contact. And when that happens, it’s necessary for friends and neighbors to help each other within their communities.

Victoria’s Secret, in an apparently strange but true story, demonstrated how to do just this in 2012 when it plussed up the 69th Infantry Regiment to aid in the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.


Michael  Loftus
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