Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day is not a time to thank Veterans

You see it all the time... well-meaning folks with outstretched hands thanking people in uniform for their service. It happens on Main Street USA, at the local grocery store, or in your hometown. At no time do you see more of this kind gesture of gratitude than on holidays which honor military service members such as Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, and in this case, Memorial Day.

While most personnel in uniform appreciate the kindness and recognition, most of them are humble enough to prefer to simply go about their business. When queried, many will say "I'm just doing my job." Even those who have been involved in heroic acts tend to say the same thing. But if you watch them carefully, after the handshake, you'll see a little added 'pep' in their walk, and a smile on their face. This is especially true if the person thanking them is a retired veteran themselves.

This alone is worth all the effort. But it begs a deeper question; what exactly is Memorial Day all about?

A colleague who is in the military recently posted a Memorial Day photo to her Facebook page. Depicted is a number of uniformed U.S. Army Soldiers, kneeling down, with their helmets removed, obviously honoring one of their fallen comrades. In the background of the photo is a large American Flag, obviously "Photoshopped" into the image. But it's the words that adorn this photo which inspired me to write this post.  They say:

"Memorial Day is for the Fallen. Please don't thank me this weekend."

Truly, Memorial Day is for those military members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and laid down their lives for their fellow Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Coast Guardsman. Framed in this light, the aforementioned Facebook post should take on a new significance. Yes, those service members and veterans still here with us deserve society's gratitude. Yes, their contributions do matter. Yes, it is because of their choice to give up birthdays and holidays in order to keep watch over our interests that most Americans can live a free, content existence.

But Memorial Day is really about the fallen, and we as a nation, cannot forget that fact. THAT is the point of my colleague's Facebook photo, and the inspiration behind this blog post.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States. Over two dozen towns and cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of the holiday by President Lyndon Johnson in May, 1966.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear--Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor the country's dead. It was originally proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, a national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in his General Order No. 11.

"The 30th of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land," Logan proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he referred to it, was chosen specifically because it wasn't the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.

So on Monday, May 25, 2015, as we as a nation fire up our barbecue grills, or take the boat to the lake, or pack up the family for the long holiday weekend of fun, keep in mind not just the sacrifice of those you see out and about who wear our nation's uniform, but for those you don't see.

Yes, go ahead and thank them. By all means, shake their hand. But tell them that you appreciate not only their sacrifice, but that of those in uniform who no longer walk this Earth. Those comrades-in-arms are gone, but will never be forgotten. Those service members who volunteered their service to this great nation, and gave their lives so that we could all live in the land of the free.

To see a really good historical overview of Memorial Day by the History Channel, go here.

--Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager

Romania: More than just Soviet-block neighborhoods and Dracula stories

Above: The view of the Black Sea from the newly-renovated Pavilion C of the Mangalia City Hospital, Romania, May 20, 2015. The project is a part of U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA), which is designed to improve the host nation's critical infrastructure and the underlying living conditions of the civilian populace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Story by Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd, Oregon Air National Guard Public Affairs

MANGALIA, Romania - The tires screeched, pushing me back firmly into my seat as we accelerated past an 80-year-old woman trying to inch her way across the road. After a dicey two centimeter miss of a VW hatchback bumper on the left, the steely-eyed driver barreled toward oblivion with a solitary objective on his mind: Get to Constanta. Fast.

And to think, the driver looked so official with his epauletted black sweater and crew cut. 'Should have taken the bus' was the refrain running through my head as we careened over the Romanian countryside, blindly trusting our driver to deposit us somewhere near our destination; a man on a mission to collect the next fare.

On a mission of a different, more deliberate kind, members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron just a few days prior, had flown around the globe from Portland, Oregon, to take part in a mission to rebuild a clinic in the thriving and historic country of Romania.

From the time they arrived, the Airmen, 33 civil engineers, were spun up with nervousness—the kind of energy people like our amped-up driver get after too much waiting around. After an unplanned layover at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington, and the mission waiting in the wings, the capable crew had just 11 working days to complete their objective with a full schedule of work on the horizon.

Arriving at the hotel, a rush of sensations flooded my western sensibility. A former Soviet-occupied country, Romania laid in stark contrast to stateside life. Cars are smaller, buildings are much older and the decor was something I’d never seen before. Alabaster-colored marble tile gleamed in the lobby of the 70's-era hotel, reflecting mauve curtains, maroon uniformed hoteliers with stiff collars and cabled, stainless steel handrails. Hall lights on motion sensors flicked on in an eco-conscious way as I dragged my overfilled bags across synthetic hardwood and collapsed into my twin-sized bed.

In the morning the Citizen-Airmen, much too close for comfort, sardined into six-person elevators, heading toward the job site. Balding men in striped robes and women in 90's fashion watched us walk past as they waited in the lobby for therapeutic spa treatments to commence; a descendant healing ritual of the Greeks and Romans who inhabited the ancient coastal city of Mangalia, Romania since antiquity.

It's important I establish why we're here, or try to anyway. Why Romania? A NATO partner, Romania was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. European Command to receive construction aid under the Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA). Civil engineers from the Oregon Air National Guard provide the manpower, expertise and receive valuable on-the-job training, while EUCOM provides funding and logistical support.

What's the bigger picture? It's hard to say. It's also hard to ignore the heightened tensions in the Black Sea region. As far as the members of the 142nd CES are concerned, at the end of the day, the mission objective is clear: to finish the renovation of a medical clinic in Mangalia, Romania suffering from extensive water damage and accessibility problems.

As the engineers arrived on scene, I was amazed how quickly they spread out to survey each working area at the clinic. They'd seen a few construction images sent over from a previous group, but the two-dimensional pictures weren't quite enough. Each Airmen wanted to inspect each facet, and they did, with a hands-on survey of each weld, each room and each tile.

"It's nice to finally get here. It doesn't look as intimidating as in the photos," said Staff Sgt. Samantha Orem, as she angled in to inspect the welds on a wheelchair ramp handrail with an analytical, focused gaze.

Meanwhile, as the Airmen inspected, a few feet away, fishermen visiting the beach community for a weekend getaway heaved six-meter fishing poles past the gentle, shallow surf of the Black Sea. No fish were caught by the relaxed gentlemen, but they didn't seem overly-disappointed by this fact.

The city of Mangalia is a tourist destination on the coast of the Black Sea. During the busy summer season, the population balloons in the coastal town. During the off-season, it drops down to a much more modest group of local residents manning local restaurants, hotels and convenience stores.

The architecture in the city is highlighted by post-World War II Soviet apartment block buildings, red clay roof tiled homes, carved wooden churches and stuccoed vacation villas for the well-heeled. Here, the ancient stands alongside the new in a graceful harmony. In fact, it's not uncommon to see a donkey and cart going down the road alongside newer Audis and BMWs. Such is Romania.

The scrape of metal trowels on hard tile reverberated through the ancient city as the sea birds patterned overhead, searching for the next meal washed up from the brackish water. As the afternoon pushed on, the Black Sea breeze edged in. Stark white swans paddled parallel to the shoreline. Their feathers ruffled in the wind like bleached toupees bobbing on the swells.

The Black Sea, (known as Marea Neagră in Romanian), is a gentle body of water in May, the color of dark turquoise, as it meets the shoreline with its rolling half-meter waves. The wind kicks up in the afternoon and cools the sun-reddened cheeks of the civil engineers sweating in the midday sun.

Left: Oregon Air National Guard members from the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) arrive at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, May 7. As part of the 142nd Fighter Wing’s CES participation in U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA), the Oregon Citizen-Airmen assist in improvements to the host nation's critical infrastructure and the underlying living conditions of the civilian populace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron come from different backgrounds. Some work as general contractors in their day jobs and some are new troops just starting their military careers. It was heartening to see the experienced non-commissioned officers lead by example; laying tile side-by-side with Airmen on their first deployment. Words of encouragement were handed out freely and gentle corrections kept the crews aligned and motivated.

"When you step on a tile and rear a hollow sound, the thinset doesn't have full contact and needs to be redone," explained Tech. Sgt. Glen Blackford to an eager apprentice.

Tech. Sgt. Ramon Lopez adapted to the scenario by pitching in on a little bit of everything.

"I'm an electrician but now I'm doing this," he said.

The "this" meant everything from priming, laying tile, spreading plaster, wiring new lights, painting; basically anything that needed to get done. The jack-of-all-trades Lopez and the rest of the crew were eager to get the job accomplished.

But first, lunch.

Above: A food service worker at the Mangalia City Hospital, Romania serves a bowl of homemade soup to members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), Oregon Air National Guard. May 19, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Eating in Romania is like eating nowhere else. There will be courses—many courses. And you will eat soup. Much soup. An Airman here accurately stated that Romanian meals are like having their grandparents cook for them; The food is hearty, the people are hospitable, and it's physically impossible to leave hungry.

Food service workers at the hospital nearby wore bright yellow uniforms and worked out of a red-and-white-tiled kitchen stirring large vats of soup and folding pastries into neat little triangles. The women wore tidy white hats like from a 1950s’ era diner.

Left: Katy Graur, a food service worker for the Mangalia City Hospital, Romania, poses for a portrait after cooking a traditional Romanian meal for members of the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard in Mangalia, Romania May 8, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

After a brief, pantomimed exchange of words, one of the cooks at the hospital gets the message through that she has a son living in Biloxi, Mississippi. After a few selfies and congratulatory nods, the service began.

Soup, soup, soup. Fish. Potatoes. Bread. Stuffed cabbage. And a stuffed belly for everyone. Filled croissants and crepes push things way past any reasonable point of fullness.

The culinary timid should heed this advice: emptying one's bowl in Romania is like a bat signal to the cook that more food is required.

Over a period of a few days, with food piled high, the service reached a cultural equilibrium. The cooks started to bring less food out and the Airmen learned to signal their fullness by patting bellies and uttering phrasebook Romanian.

Back to the worksite, the Airmen run into a few difficulties. Everything from materials to tools in Europe are measured using the metric system and not all of the group's calculations back home took this into account. Mixing concrete became a cultural and academic experience as three Airmen translated the instructions from the back of the locally-sourced bag of cement into terms they could understand.

In reality, the European approach to construction is much different than the United States; even more so with Eastern Europe. Energy efficiency is the rule, not the exception and unique tools and materials caused the engineers to approach common construction problems from new, more creative angles. Wall mesh used for stucco work doubled as screening material and exterior fencing was transformed into bathroom stall material.

After a few solid days of progress, the engineers had met major milestones on construction, finishing extensive tile work on the top floor of the clinic and completing plaster repairs to the walls of the examination rooms.

With checked boxes and steady progress, we were given liberty to leave our small outpost of Mangalia and were encouraged to get out and explore. One batch of Airmen headed to Brasov in Transylvania, a former medieval Saxon settlement silhouetted by the Carpathian Mountains. Yes, Transylvania is a real place, steeped in legends of Vlad the Impaler, Dracula and other spooky tales.

Another group in search of more sights, sounds, energy and action traveled to the Bucharest, Romania's largest city.

And our wayward driver, as impatient and reckless as he was, he delivered this and another correspondent, worse for wear, in the middle of the city of Constanta, a nearby port city of about 200,000 people.

Right: An Orthodox clergyman greets local residents near the entrance to the old cemetery in Constanta, Romania May 16, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Hopelessly lost, a highlight of this side trip was a chance pathway leading to the old cemetery in the middle of town. On a Sunday morning, hundreds of townspeople streamed into the cemetery, past dark-robed Orthodox clergymen, bright red and white carnations and incense in tow, ready to perform age-old ceremonies honoring their ancestors.

Near the back of the cemetery, plain gravestones with red stars marked the Russian servicemembers who perished in Romania during World War II. Visiting this revered plot of ground in the middle of the city was a vivid reminder of Romania's not-so-distant past.

Romanians are fiercely proud of their heritage, including their Latin-based language and a penchant for telling stories of their captivating, complicated history; a riveting tale too extensive to cover in these paragraphs.

Energized after the weekend, the crew headed back to work early Monday morning. They greeted citizens on the street with newly-learned Romanian phrases and received smiles reserved for special occasions. They approached each task feverishly with an orderly momentum to knock out all of the punch list items left on the project list.

As the civil engineers neared completion on a new wheelchair ramp at the front of the clinic, before the materials had even dried, a woman pushed a stroller up the new ramp; a small act in one person's day made a little easier by the toil and sweat of the Oregon Citizen-Airmen. The group cleaned up the construction site and packed tools away as officials gathered to celebrate and cut the ribbon on the project, now deemed a complete success by all those involved.

U.S. Charge d’Affairs a.i., Dean Thompson, along with Mayor of Mangalia, Romania, Radu Cristian, cut the ribbon to the renovated Pavilion C of the Mangalia City Hospital, Romania, May 20, as part of the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA). (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

The Airmen thanked the people they'd met and quietly made their way back to the military transport plane bound for Portland; a little more worn out, definitely wiser and more culturally aware, and standing a little straighter then when they first arrived.

Oregon Air National Guard Civil Engineers deploy to renovate Romanian medical clinic

Above: Oregon Air National Guard Tech Sgt. Ramon Lopez, right, and Staff Sgt. Jared Levitt, left, assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, work together to size and place new exterior tile flooring to a medical facility in the city of Mangalia, Romania, May 8. The mission is part of the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA), which is designed to improve the host nation's critical infrastructure and the underlying living conditions of the civilian populace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Story By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MANGALIA, Romania – Framed by the backdrop of the Black Sea shoreline, Oregon Air National Guardsmen from the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron traveled nearly halfway around the globe to renovate a medical facility here as part of the U.S. European Commands’ Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program.

Left: Oregon Air National Guard members from the 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) arrive at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, May 7. As part of the 142nd Fighter Wing’s CES participation in U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA), the Oregon Citizen-Airmen assist in improvements to the host nation's critical infrastructure and the underlying living conditions of the civilian populace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

The restoration of Pavilion C at the Mangalia City Hospital is a Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) project funded by the United States European Command (EUCOM) with the participation of nearly 90 U.S. military Airmen from Alabama and Oregon Air National Guard units. The estimated total cost of this renovation is $60,000.

The Airmen addressed a rooftop terrace, treatment rooms, bathroom upgrades, as well as other building projects at the clinic. The project was started by the Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing, and then handed over to the Oregon citizen-Airmen to complete. Romania is a state partner with Alabama, under the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

“The project is the duration of two rotations,” said Lt. Col. Jacob Skugrud, 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer deputy commander and project officer. “Our sister unit in Alabama started the work and then the Portland team followed in their footsteps to complete the project.”

While some of the civil engineers took on the water damage repairs, a significant aspect to the project was building a wheelchair ramp to the Pavilion C entry.

Dr. Liviu Mocanu, hospital director, said the wheelchair ramp was vital to the overall construction project.

“To have a current health license for the building the addition of the access ramp was necessary to serve those with disabilities,” he said.

When the 142nd CES arrived, the basic concrete structure still had to be completed. Modifications to the handrails, additional concrete forms and a tile surface on the ramp took another eight days to complete.

“This hospital is special to this region of Romania, and it is a great honor to have been chosen for the assistance,” Macanu said.

Pavilion C specializes in oncological medicine. The severity of the water damage forced several of the treatment rooms located on the third floor to be decommissioned, forcing the practitioners to work in other facilities in the area.

The damage to the treatment rooms transpired over time from the forth floor terrace, as water exploited weaknesses in the building's structure. The Alabama team pulled the damaged floor tile and installed a new sealing membrane to keep water out, prior to laying the new tile. With the roof project partially complete, the Oregon Airmen continued to install the remainder of the tile roof, spending a majority of time with detailing the final pieces and grouting until complete.

“The new membrane will keep water from seeping into the rooms and hallway renovated on this project,” Skugrud said. “The team from Alabama had a bigger crew with about 50-plus members, so they were able to keep the project on pace and prep other areas for our team to finish.”

After arriving almost two days late to the site in Romania due to airlift glitches, and with a smaller crew of 33 members, the 142nd Airmen had to quickly pick up the pace on the clinic renovations.

Not only had the water damage affected the treatment rooms inside the clinic but it also deteriorated the exterior stucco of the building, damaging electrical lighting and fixtures both inside and out.

Left: Oregon Air National Guard Capt. Lucas Smith (center), 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), points to the progress of repairs and where exterior stucco will be placed, to Chief Master Sgt. Brian Wade, (left), as Oregon Citizen-Airmen from the CES unit repair water damage to a health facility in the city of Mangalia, Romania, May 9. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

“The folks from Alabama had done the major prep and demo to the exterior,” said Capt. Lucas Smith, 142nd CES, who served as the project lead for the building exterior renovations. “We had to go from the bare concrete to primer and then to applying the stucco.”

Applying stucco was a new experience for the Oregon Airmen, and allowed for most of the crew working with Smith a chance to cross-train and develop new skills.

“We’ve had an enthusiastic team during this process and I have no doubt our younger Airmen have learned a great deal more than just how to apply stucco,” Smith said.

Deployments For Training (DFT) give Air National Guard units like the 142nd CES the opportunity to enhance existing skills while deploying outside the United States, at the same time developing a sense of responsibility in those host nations, Smith added.

“We preform DFT projects approximately once every three years, depending on real-world deployments and our annual training commitments,” said 142nd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Commander Lt. Col. Jason Lay.

According to Lay, a key decision on why this project was selected is the diversity of skill sets within one project. Once on site, he quickly put smaller teams together to tackle different areas of the building.

“There’s a synergistic effect; people like working alongside each other, camaraderie and team building occur naturally while accomplish an objective together,” Lay said.

“Out of the group here in Romania, about two-thirds of them are on their first DFT project.”

One of the more experienced members of the Romanian deployment is Senior Airman Zachariah Lewis. As a civilian carpenter and contractor, he brought many of the skills necessary to finish renovating the treatment rooms.

Yet Lewis is also completing back-to-back international deployments, having just returned from Vietnam in a similar role with Oregon’s State Partnership Program. Oregon also has Bangladesh as its state partner.

When Lay asked for volunteers to be project leads the first day on site, Lewis immediately stepped up.

“I was confident that I can bring my knowledge to the team, and teach them how to do the job,” Lewis said.

He quickly put together a group of six to eight Airmen to finish paint scraping, plaster repair and eventually painting the water damaged treatment rooms and connecting main hallway.

“I work a lot with general contractors and typically know how the work flow goes, and have a sense for how the end results need to be,” Lewis said.

Touring the project during the final week, Macanu was visibly happy when he inspected how the final part of the project was coming together.

“I wish that we could have our American friends come back and work on other projects in the future that need more work,” he said.

During the two-weeks the 142nd CES spent repairing the clinic, citizens of Mangalia watched the work in passing with wonder and often smiles as the work progressed. A new and growing sense of camaraderie as well as a heightened willingness between the Air Guardsmen and citizens of Mangalia, Romania, began to develop in with the progress made on the medical clinic.

Since becoming a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member in 2004, Romania has continued to foster better affiliations with partner nations. As the project concluded, a formal ribbon cutting ceremony, on May 20, allowed U.S. and Romanian officials the opportunity to highlight this shared bond, as U.S. Charge d’Affairs ad interim Dean Thompson and the mayor of Mangalia, Romania, Radu Cristian, celebrated the renovation to Pavilion C.

“It is a gift from the American people to the citizens of Mangalia and the surrounding towns, villages and communities. Better healthcare leads to better outcomes and will help the future of the region to grow and prosper,” said Thompson.

The deployments are an important aspect to sustain a positive U.S. military presence while preparing National Guardsmen to stay prepared to perform their mission; whether home or aboard.

Above: U.S. Charge d’Affairs a.i., Dean Thompson, along with Mayor of Mangalia, Romania, Radu Cristian, cut the ribbon to the renovated Pavilion C of the Mangalia City Hospital, Romania, May 20, as part of the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM) Humanitarian Civic Assistance Program (HCA). The EUCOM HCA program is designed to improve the host nation's critical infrastructure and the underlying living conditions of the civilian populace. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

“By building partnerships within these communities this has been a great training opportunity through the DFT program, while at the same time it has also been a chance to broaden our influence throughout Europe,” said Patrick Considine, HCA program manager for EUCOM.

Meeting the 142nd CES Airmen on hand for the ceremony, Considine praised the knowledge, the skill and professionalism, which contributed to the success of this project.

“Hopefully we can replicate what you guys did here, going forward with the next 20 HCA projects slated for this season, it will be tough to match because your team really knocked it way out of the park,” Considine said.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oregon Soldiers assist West Point Academy with equipment repair

Spc. Andrew Cobb, 3670th Component Repair Company, Oregon National Guard, conducts repairs on optical devices at the Logistics Readiness Center, West Point, New York, Feb. 5. (Photo by Kathleen Silvia, West Point LRC)

Story by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, with significant contribution by Capt. Maribel Ortega 

What happens to Army field equipment when it gets dirty, banged up or needs to be repaired? If you’re at the Army’s Logistics Readiness Center in West Point, New York, you call the Oregon Army National Guard.

Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers from Oregon’s 3670th Component Repair Company, 821st Troop Command, spent their two-week active duty at West Point Academy in New York, Jan. 25 – Feb. 7.

The mission was to conduct technical inspection of all optics and night vision equipment and provide training and equipment needs for West Point’s future sustainment capabilities. The equipment is used during the summer for training by cadets who attend the academy.

The Oregon National Guard 3670th CRC is the first National Guard unit across the nation to be approved and funded for this unique ARNG/RC mission support to AMC Facilities. This includes Armament Section for weapons repair and Electronics Section for PVS and Radio repair.

The Soldiers were led by 1st Lt. Andrew Leckie and Sgt. 1st Class Peter Hachey.

According to the unit’s company commander, Capt. Maribel Ortega, the mission was an extremely valuable training opportunity for the unit’s Soldiers.

From front, final testing of optical devices is conducted by Pfc. Brian Andrews; Staff Sgt. Dustin Miller; Pfc. George Costa and Spc. Andrew Cobb at the Logistics Readiness Center, West Point, New York, Feb. 3. (Photo by Kathleen Silvia, West Point LRC)

“This is extremely valuable training for all Soldiers, to be able to travel with equipment and perform their actual MOS for a military instillation that was badly in need of our assistance,” Ortega said. “This high-operational tempo over the course of 11 production days allowed Soldiers to have high moral and enjoy a valuable experience and training at an installation such as West Point.”

During the two-week period, Soldiers performed service and repair on more than 1,600 individual pieces of equipment, including 808 night vision and 800 aiming lasers. Soldiers also had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the M-110 sniper rifle, 240 Bravo weapon, the .30 cal. Browning machine gun, and various other WWII weapons.

"She and her staff should be credited with the amazing technical skills and professionalism they displayed in conducting these repairs for us. It was a win-win," said Kathleen Silvia, West Point LRC, Logistics Operations about Ortega and the unit’s Soldiers.

Ortega added that her Soldiers worked at an extremely strong pace, leading them to complete more than the original estimate.  As they completed their tasks early, they were able to take a field trip to New York City to experience the sights in one of the U.S.’s largest cities.

“This was a huge boost for moral, and allowed the Soldiers to tour of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center Memorial. It’s always important as Soldiers to remember those who came before and what we are fighting to defend for our country,” Ortega added.

The 3670th Component Repair Company is already approved and funded to perform two more Annual Training rotations in March and April at West Point and two additional rotations at White Sands Missile Range, NM.  LRCs (WP or WS) have specific mission and workload needs for Installations/LRCs and the National Guard units across the nation can assist in providing the manpower through Annual Training. Soldiers work on their unique MOS skills and accomplish training on their METL tasks for the year.

The U.S. Army Sustainment Command manages 72 LRCs worldwide that provide field maintenance expertise, transportation services, and base logistics support.