Monday, October 20, 2014

Oregon military voters stationed overseas encouraged to submit absentee ballots early

If you are a registered Oregon voter who is stationed overseas, here is some information on voting in the general election.

There are several laws which apply to voters, and specific guidelines for absentee voting. In order to vote in U.S. elections you must be:

• A citizen of the United States on the date of the election in which you wish to vote.
• At least 18 years old on Election Day. (Some states allow 17-year olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 on or before the general election).

The absentee voting process applies to you if you are:

• An active duty member of the U.S. Uniformed Services, Merchant Marine or Activated National Guard.
• A family member (spouse or dependent).
• A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.

You must request your absentee ballot before Oct. 30, 2014, and your finished ballot must be received by 8:00 p.m. PST, on Nov. 4, 2014.  Keep in mind this is not a mailing deadline! You must mail your voting materials early enough to account for mail delivery times.

For Oregon-specific questions on voting and the process to request your absentee ballot, visit http://www.fvap.gov/oregon.  Here, you can also find links to review Oregon’s absentee voting guidelines, review the state’s election website, and find local election officials. You can also check the status of your submitted ballot.

If you are from another state, visit http://www.fvap.gov/military-voter, and click on your home state.  Keep in mind, each state has specific local and regional laws governing absentee voting and deadlines for submitting ballots.


For more information on military members registering to vote, returning ballots, or other questions about voting, visit http://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/overview.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oregon National Guard member added to Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial

Nancy Farrar (center) is assisted by a member of the Oregon National Guard Honor Guard (right) as she adds her cousin’s name to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Staff during a ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Salem, Ore. Melvin Claude Richardson, an Oregon National Guard member, was killed while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. Farrar worked with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to have Richardson added to the memorial. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
 
An Oregon National Guard Soldier was added to the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial and honored in a ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Sal em, Ore.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) added five Oregon fire fighters who were killed in the line of duty to the list of names on the memorial. The ceremony brought together multiple fire fighting and public safety agencies from throughout the state, including members of the Oregon National Guard, to honor the fallen and their families.

Melvin Claude Richardson, age 18, of Albany, Ore., was killed on September 6, 1935 when a flaming tree branch fell and struck him. He was one of 40 initial National Guard fire fighters recruited to fight the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres in the Willamette National Forest.

Richardson's cousin, Nancy Farrar, contacted the DPSST to have his name added to the wall of the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial. Farrar also added his name to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Staff during the ceremony.
 
A combined Honor Guard representing multiple fire fighting and public safety agencies fold the American flag during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Salem, Ore.  A member of the Oregon National Guard, Melvin Claude Richardson, was added to the memorial and honored during the ceremony for his selfless sacrifice while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Members of the Oregon Fire Service Honor Guard, including their Dalmatian mascot, kneel at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial honoring fire fighters killed in the line of duty during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem, Ore. Five Oregon fire fighters were added to the memorial and honored during the ceremony, including a member of the Oregon National Guard, Melvin Claude Richardson, who was killed while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
More photos from the ceremony are posted on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonmildep/sets/72157647774428115/


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

KISS raises $1.15 million for Oregon Military Museum at All-Star Salute event


Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer perform at an event to raise money for the Oregon Military Museum. (Photo by David A. Barss)
Gene Simmons with Dan Dutton, Chairman and CEO of Stimson Lumber at an event to raise money for the Oregon Military Museum. (Photo by David A. Barss)


Editorial submission by Historical Outreach Foundation (HOF)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. - On a picture-perfect evening in Lake Oswego, Sept. 14, at the private island estate of Rick and Erika Miller, members of the legendary rock band KISS played an all-acoustic set for a small group of guests at this year's All-Star Salute; making memories to last a lifetime and raising more than $1.15 million dollars for the Brigadier General James B. Thayer Oregon Military Museum.

Band members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer arrived at the intimate gathering following a national tour where they played to more than 600,000 fans in more than 42 shows. Sunday's audience was just under 200 in number.

Tommy Thayer, lead guitarist for KISS and son of Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer, has been involved with the Oregon Military Museum for several years, and is committed to honoring those who have served in the military. With all four KISS members in attendance, the event was unique in its size, setting, and the goal-exceeding $1.15 million it raised for the cause.

News anchor Steve Dunn of KATU emceed the program and introduced guest performers including The Patrick Lamb Trio, Julianne Johnson and Jean Pierre-Garau.

For Tommy, the museum named for his father holds a very personal connection. He is quick to express his gratitude and respect for members of the military who have served, and the heroes who have risked their lives for others.

"I've been blessed to live in this country and have the opportunity to do what I love and follow my passion for music," said Thayer. "None of it would be possible without people like my dad, and so many other veterans, who have bravely fought to protect our liberties and freedoms."

Alisha Hamel, as the executive director for the Historical Outreach Foundation, is charged with supporting the fundraising efforts for the Oregon Military Museum, and other educational initiatives including the Oregon WWII Memorial and the Veterans' Legacies Project. She has been involved in each phase of the museum project, and is an integral part in the development of the educational aspects of the museum. An educator, historian, and veteran of Desert Storm, Hamel brings a valuable perspective on Oregon's, and the country's, rich military history.

"The funds raised at this year's All-Star Salute will jump start the process of creating truly interactive, hands-on exhibits at the museum," said Hamel. " We know that the best way to teach history is to engage people in the learning experience."

The Oregon Military Museum, now under construction at Camp Withycombe, in Clackamas, is the largest initiative underway at the Historical Outreach Foundation, and Sunday's All-Star Salute was the largest single fundraiser in the history of the museum. The proceeds put the museum over the halfway mark on a $14.6 million project.

"We are incredibly grateful to KISS and to the Millers for creating this once-in-a-lifetime event." said Hamel. "This was beyond anything we could have imagined, and is an evening we will not soon forget."

Monday, September 15, 2014

1-186th Infantry Battalion wraps up training, prepares to depart for Afghanistan


Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, train with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Capt. James Ball, commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas – Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment, headquartered out of Ashland, Ore., are wrapping-up their training at Fort Hood, Texas, and getting ready to depart for Afghanistan this month in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The Soldiers have spent the last two months training for their mission and say they’re getting excited to move forward and take the next step. While many Soldiers are looking forward to the mission, others are simply excited to get out of the central-Texas heat and into the relatively cooler weather in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The training has been exceptionally relevant to the mission in Afghanistan. Soldiers have learned how to fire nearly every small arms weapon system in the Army inventory, from the 9mm pistol to the .50 caliber machine gun. Another crucial training event was the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) training where Soldiers learned to recognize and react to IEDs.

In early August, a group from United States Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) office visited the Soldiers during their training in Texas. The senator’s aides were given the opportunity to try on body armor and shoot an M4 rifle with the Soldiers on a marksmanship training range. It was a brand new experience for one of the aides who had never fired a gun in his life. 

The Soldiers based in Ashland have mostly administrative jobs and they say one of the challenges has been getting used to a seven-day work week schedule. “Things are a little bit slower on Saturday and Sunday, but it’s definitely a mental hurdle when you realize that the weekend is just another day at work,” one Soldier shared.

Another highlight from the training was our battalion’s “Staff Ride”. The leadership of the battalion took a trip to a historical site for professional development and a day away from training. This year’s “Staff Ride” was to The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, which is only about 200 miles from Fort Hood. Once we reached The Alamo, we analyzed the battle using modern warfighting principles and tactics, and discussed the strengths and weaknesses from both the offensive and defensive point of view.

Whatever your views on the war in Afghanistan, it’s important to remember that these Soldiers are answering the nation’s call and selflessly serving the United States. All of these Southern Oregon Soldiers are leaving families and jobs behind for nearly a year of military service. While nine months may not be an eternity, many Soldiers will miss important milestones in the lives of their family which they will never get back.

Thank you for your continued support of our Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers!

Alpha Company hones their skills with vehicles and weapon systems:

Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, train with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, unit public affairs representative for 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, based out of Medford, Ore., conducted mobilization training and evaluations at Fort Hood, Texas, prior to their departure for Afghanistan. The major tasks during these few weeks culminated into qualifications for the crews on mounted gunnery.

The different stages for qualifying a unit can be very arduous, resulting in long hours in the heat and humidity of Texas, testing Soldiers’ physical fitness, discipline and military bearing.

The qualification process started with getting Soldiers qualified to drive the different vehicles they will be utilizing during their deployment. Those vehicles are the MAXXPRO and MATV, two vehicles belonging to the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) family of military vehicles.

The next step was for the Soldiers to qualify on the weapons systems they are assigned. The Soldiers spent almost a week on different ranges training on their marksmanship abilities, ranging from their individual weapons to crew served machine guns. The next stage involved the crews moving through several scenarios, engaging a series of targets being graded on time, accuracy and correctness of commands.

Once the individual crews were qualified on gunnery, the next task was to conduct a Convoy Live Fire patrol. This exercise was comprised of several vehicle crews, which moved along a route and encountered scenarios to test their ability to react to the different situations in a timely, organized and effective manner. The crews spotted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and reacted to a simulated explosion and small arms fire. The crews became more proficient and confident in their abilities to coordinate fires safely and effectively with those units beside them.

This sort of task is important for the unit because it familiarizes them with the vehicle and weapons systems that will be essential tools for them during their time in Afghanistan. It also hones their ability to work as a team.

With each individual position having their own certain responsibilities in the crew, the communication between Soldiers must be sharpened for them to be a potent fighting machine. This is just one of the many skill sets Soldiers in the unit are acquiring in order to enhance their survivability when they head downrange.

Charlie Company overcomes obstacles:

An Oregon Army National Guard Soldier of Charlie Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, navigates a Leaders' Reaction Course at Fort Hood, Texas, during pre-deployment training in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. The course featured a series of obstacles and practical exercises in problem solving to test the teamwork and leadership capacity of the Soldiers. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, unit public affairs representative for 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, based out of Roseburg, Ore., have been training hard at Fort Hood, Texas, and are getting ready to depart for Afghanistan, where they will spend approximately nine months.

Fort Hood featured training facilities to help the Soldiers prepare for their upcoming deployment, including pop-up target firing ranges for all types of weapon systems. The weather was hot and humid, with temperatures over 100 degrees most days, but the Oregon Soldiers say their morale is high and they are happy to be training.

Recent training included a Leaders’ Reaction Course. The course featured a series of obstacles and practical exercises in problem solving to test the teamwork and leadership capacity of Charlie Company’s Soldiers. The Soldiers competed for the fastest and most effective completion of the course, despite the challenging tasks and the hot weather conditions.

Charlie Company also conducted a road march to the bayonet assault course. While bayonets aren’t thought of as the most commonly used weapon system in modern warfare, the course provided an opportunity to blow off some steam for the Soldiers. Spc. Karl Henderson made use of skills acquired in his civilian job as a knife sensei to instruct Soldiers on how to disarm an attacker.

Oregon’s Citizen-Soldiers say they are training and working hard, and awaiting the upcoming deployment.


Delta Company is ready to take on their mission:

Members of Delta Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, pose for a group photo prior to departing Fort Hood, Texas on their way to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Capt. Jered Carpenter, commander of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

Dear friends and family,

We began our training as a consolidated forward deploying unit in April 2014, and we have been training on a full-time basis since the middle of June.  As we close out the training phase of our deployment, I am confident that we have become a cohesive team that is ready to adapt to the many challenges that lie ahead.  We are now transitioning into the theatre of operations in Afghanistan and all of the Soldiers that I have spoken with are excited to begin the next chapter of their journey.

Throughout our first few weeks at Fort Hood, Texas, the active duty unit responsible for conducting our training was pleased with the amount of training that we had already completed.  As a result, we found ourselves in a situation where we were planning training to fill in down time.  Some of the training events that we conducted during our first month in Texas included in-processing, additional rifle and machine gun training ranges, convoy simulator training, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle training, squad level obstacle courses, and land navigation.  

By the time we moved into the second month of training at Fort Hood, the pace picked up slightly and the unit completed training events.  These events included combat patrols on MRAPs with an emphasis on detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), machine gun and maneuver training from MRAP vehicles, and finally a culminating training exercise.  Delta Company had the highest scores and brought home the “Top Gun” honors during the mounted gunnery training exercise.  Mounted Gunnery is a timed event where a gunner fires at targets with a machine gun from an armored vehicle (MRAP in our case) while stationary and on the move.

The five-day culminating training exercise was our final training event, which allowed us an opportunity to conduct a “dress rehearsal” for our Afghanistan mission.  During this exercise we provided security for a small base, conducted combat patrols, practiced personnel searches and responded to simulated attack scenarios.  This exercise allowed us to operate on a 24-hour basis and refine our tactics and techniques prior to entering the combat theatre.

Throughout the course of our training, Delta Company placed a great deal of emphasis on Physical Training (PT).  Delta Company Soldiers did physical fitness training twice per day, six days per week.  A typical day would include company or platoon-led PT in the morning, followed by scheduled training, and finally an evening work-out at the gym.  Our schedule has been relatively conducive to maintaining a regular PT program and the results have been outstanding.  The unit conducted a diagnostic physical fitness test in the early part of June and the company average was 213 out of a possible 300 points.  By the time a second test was conducted at the beginning of September, the company average had risen to 263, an outstanding score for any active duty unit in the United States Army.  Many Soldiers have lost an average of about eight pounds.

We now enter the country of Afghanistan fully prepared, both physically and mentally, to execute our assigned mission.  We enter Afghanistan in a time of transition and uncertainty, and we must remain flexible as our mission requirements are subject to change.  We must also maintain positive attitudes as times of austerity await our Soldiers, who will be living in one of the most remote regions of the world.  We are an experienced unit however, with more than 60 percent of our Soldiers having previously deployed before.  I am fully confident that we will execute our mission to the highest standard and uphold the great reputation that Oregon National Guard Soldiers have established over the last 13 years.