Gage Dole is seven years old. Someday he hopes to be a Soldier.
But it’s a dream that has hung in the balance ever since he was stricken with cancer at age three.
After fighting and surviving two bouts with the disease, he met and befriended Staff Sgt. Bill Postels of the Oregon National Guard at a cancer survivors’ camp. After learning of the youth’s dream, the Oregon Soldier helped make Gage’s dream a reality—at least for a day.
On Sept. 6, the Oregon National Guard’s 41 Special Troops Battalion at Camp Withycombe made Gage Dole one of their Soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Phelan arranged for Gage to participate in a hands-on weapons demonstration, and to meet with a combat medic. Gage also toured the base in a M-1117 Armored Security Vehicle.
“Gage has an infectious personality and people and really think his outlook on life is better than a lot of us who are adults,” said Phelan.
Sgt. Michael Richards, a heavy equipment operator for 41st STB, taught Gage how each of the weapons worked. During the lesson Gage sat behind a 240 Bravo Machine Gun with a huge smile on his face.
And when Gage saw the security vehicle, he exclaimed, “It looks like one of the transformers from the movie!”
More than 20 Soldiers from 41 STB helped show Gage what it’s like to be an Oregon Guardsman. In return the Soldiers got the satisfaction of providing a small, brave boy with a lot of joy, Postels said.
“I’ll tell you I think those Soldiers got as much out of it as he did,” Postels said. “There sure was something about him. He doesn’t quit, and that’s the warrior ethos they try and instill in all of us.”
Gage’s father, whose birthday fell on the same day, said the look on his son’s face was the best birthday present he could have ever received.
Perhaps the most poignant moment came when Sgt. Lonnie Paradis removed his own Combat Infantry Badge, and pinned it on Gage’s sweatshirt. Paradis told him that he’d earned it during his fight with cancer.
“Since he came here the Soldiers haven’t quit talking about him,” said Postels. “He’s an awesome kid.”
The above story was written by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson of the Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office. Spc. Josh Hudson of the 115th MPAD also contributed to this story.
To follow Gage's progress, and to read more about his fight with cancer, visit his site here.
My personal thoughts: On the day before Thanksgiving, this story should remind us of the many things we should be thankful for.
-- Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard New Media Manager
When Mystacallie wins, so does the Oregon National Guard.
At least that's the agreement between a local radio station, 95.5 The Game, and the Oregon National Guard's Emergency Relief Fund.
The station's owners have agreed to match funds donated to the relief fund, based on the winnings of the thoroughbred. So far, it's amounted to over $12,000.
Mystacallie has won an unprecedented three wins over 23 days--a feat unheard of in local horse racing circles. Her first win on Oct. 5 was unexpected, as were her other two victories shortly thereafter.
Matched with a determined jockey by the name of Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo, and veteran trainer and breeder, Jack Root, Mystacallie has been dubbed "the people's horse". And if her winning streak continues, she may just become the darling of Oregon's Soldiers and Airmen too.
For the full story on the Oregonian's website, go here.
The site currently features a number of photos of Oregon's citizen-Airmen and citizen-Soldiers, as well as photos of Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski, the commander-in-chief of the Oregon National Guard, as well as Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard.
Members of the community, regardless if they are Oregon Guardsmen, retired, or civilian, are encouraged to join as "friends".
"While I think this is a great opportunity for Oregon's Airmen and Soldiers to connect via one of the world's most popular social networks, it also positions the Oregon National Guard nicely in the world of New Media and Web 2.0 tools," said the Oregon National Guard's New Media Manager, Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy.
Indeed, social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have grown in popularity, capturing majority of the market share for people ages 18-29. Facebook in particular has approximately 120 million new users, and was recently ranked as the number one social networking site in the world.
The new site will allow Oregon Guardsmen to network and connect with colleagues, family members, and other states' guard members, Choy added. But Oregon's efforts in social networking go much farther.
"Sites like Facebook, and indeed our entire new media initiative allows our Soldiers and Airmen to engage in online conversations with their families, friends and the general public," Choy said.
The Oregon National Guard expects to officially launch its entire New Media initiative in January 2009.
The Oregon National Guard's Facebook page can be found here.
Compiled by Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Staff
Since the dawn of this country's existence, the National Guard has stood shoulder to shoulder with the active duty forces, defending the Constitution and the American way of life.
In many cases, especially in cases of natural disasters and recent deployments to the Middle East, National Guardsmen have made sacrifices in lieu of their active duty counterparts.
Yet, through it all, the National Guard has not had equal representation at top levels of the Pentagon. That is, until now.
In a ceremony at the Pentagon yesterday, Lt. General Craig R. McKinley was awarded his fourth star. It is the first time in the 372-year history that the National Guard will be led by a four-star general.
More than 300 people from all military services including the National Guard attended the ceremony, witnessing Defense Secretary Robert Gates administer the oath of office.
"The promotion of Gen. Craig McKinley to this rank, to serve in this post, is in recognition of his outstanding leadership abilities and shows the confidence the President and I have in him to be the nation's senior Guard officer at such a critical time," said Secretary Gates.
For the full story by Master Sgt. Mike Smith of the National Guard Bureau, go here.
As I outlined in another post on the official Air Force blog, this appointment is long overdue.
With Gen. McKinley's promotion, the National Guard is no longer just a player in the game, but are also being given the opportunity to help write the playbook.
At the National Guard Association of the United States Conference, held in Baltimore, Md. in September 2008, shortly following his nomination to the post, Gen. McKinley thanked Pentagon and government leaders for the chance to lead the National Guard as a "true partner" alongside other services.
"The time has come for the National Guard to be represented at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill," he said. "Now we can sit at the table with everyone else."
The empty seat at the table has finally been appropriately filled by a deserving force.
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard New Media Manager
And as a member of the finest military in the world, and the greatest National Guard organization in the country, I would be remissed if I didn't at least say something.
Yesterday, Albany once again hosted what has been for many years, the largest Veterans Day Parade west of the Rocky Mountains. The Oregon National Guard played a big role in the observances, and captured many memorable moments there.
As yesterday turned into evening, I reflected upon what makes this day special. In reality, it is all of us who wear the uniform, to be sure, but it is also a day for others who may not wear the uniform but who understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by our men and women in the armed services. Veterans Day is a time when we collectively thank all those who make sacrifices on a daily basis, and sometimes the one, great, final sacrifice, so that we as a nation can endure.
It's for all those who laid down their plows and kissed their wives and children goodbye so they could march alongside General George Washington to face the British Army. Little did they know their efforts and sacrifice would give birth to a nation.
It is for all those who perished in the "war between the states", in numbers so great, battlefields with names like Gettysburg and Manassas were soggy with the blood of those who were killed there.
It's for all those who fought in the jungles of the Philippines, and sounded the cry, "Remember the Maine!"
It's for the "dough boys" who bravely faced Kaiser's forces and helped push back European aggression.
It's for the brave souls who possessed incomprehensible patriotism and mental fortitude to join ranks with the very country who rounded up their mothers, fathers and sisters to be carted off to "relocation camps." Members of this unit went on to become one of the highest decorated units assigned to the European theater during WWII.
It is for the 1,177 crewmembers of the U.S.S. Arizona, who lay resting, entombed in a rusting hulk at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
It's for all the selfless sacrifice and bravery displayed at Incheon, Que Son and in "Mig Alley."
It's for the "grunts" who slogged through rice paddies, and braved the jungles of Southeast Asia. For those who "held on" till the MEDEVAC chopper arrived. And for those who couldn't.
It's for the first units who made their way into Baghdad, amidst burning oil fields and abandoned tanks. After chasing down and capturing retreating Iraqis, they had the compassion to give them the last of their drinking water.
It's for those who stepped off the back of a CH-47 Chinook onto a ridge high in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, never to return to the mortal world.
It's for the brave men and women who gave a little... gave a lot... or gave it all, in places like Fallujah, Najaf, and Basrah.
It's for my father, who joined the United States Air Force at 18, and for my grandfather who spent nine months as a prisoner of war in Korea, and my great-grandfather who fought as a corporal in Europe during WWI. It's for all of you, and those who support you, that we collectively raise our hand in salute.
As a people, we are indeed free, and forever indebted to you.
Happy Veterans Day.
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard New Media Manager
Above Photo: Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs Director Jim Willis (left), pins the Bronze Star Medal for Valor on Gregory Jacques, for bravery during the Vietnam War. Jacques, who waited decades to receive the award, was also presented with several other awards including the Purple Heart during a ceremony following the parade. The parade was the 89th such parade held in Albany, Ore., and is still the largest Veterans Day Parade west of the Rocky Mountains.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
Many people remember another Iraq War protester named Cindy Sheehan, who gained international attention by her extended demonstration outside of President Bush's Texas ranch in 2005. Sheehan demanded a second meeting with the President, in the hopes of influencing a pullout from Iraq. (Sheehan and several other family members of military personnel killed in Iraq had originally met with President Bush in June 2004--three months after her deployed son Casey was killed in Iraq).
As part of her protest, Darr intends to meet with Governor Kulongoski to demand he stop the deployment. But according to Rem Nivens, the Governor's deputy communications chief, while Kulongoski has legitimate concerns about any impact to the state mission caused by the unit's deployment, he can't stop it.
In the article written by Jillian Daley, Darr said the deployment of Oregon Guardsmen in 2009 is "not true to the Guard's original mission."
However, according to Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, which provides for the "... organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."
The key phrase here is "employed in the Service of the United States".
Under the state mission, national guardsmen are available to the state governors to protect lives and property, especially during times of natural disasters. As the oldest military service specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, this dual mission has not changed since Congress enacted several militia and defense acts in 1792.
Moreover, the National Guard is based on an entirely volunteer force. No one is being forced to deploy, and everyone who wears the uniform of an Oregon Guardsman has, at one time or another, raised their right hand and taken an oath to volunteer their service.
Captain Maurice Marshall, an officer with the 41st Brigade Combat Team, who is deploying with the unit next year, disagrees with Darr's position.
"Darr says this is not true to our original mission, but it is," Marshall said. "We took an oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The President wants us to support this mission and I'm happy to go."
Granted, the Oregon National Guard--and to be fair, guard units throughout the country--are operating in a different world. The operational tempo has increased in recent years, and more deployments are the norm. Major Michael Braibish, Public Affairs Officer for the Oregon National Guard said the strategic use of the National Guard has changed since the end of the Cold War, but the purpose of the guard remains the same.
“We have gone from being a strategic reserve to an operational reserve, standing shoulder to shoulder with our active duty counterparts,” Braibish said.
One thing that hasn't changed is the national guard's commitment to making a sacrifice in order to uphold and defend the Constitution and lifestyle we all enjoy as Americans.
According to the Statesman Journal article, Darr said she is concerned about all parents whose children are being sent to fight. And rightfully so. She is quoted in the article as saying, "I have four children at home, and I can't fathom having to make that sacrifice."
But if guardsmen had not agreed to defend the free world against Nazi tyranny, we'd be living in a very different world today. Indeed, if the militia had not put down their plows and taken up arms against the British Army, the United States may not even exist today.
The "darkest place of the human spirit" Darr refers to in her interview with the Statesman Journal has happened before. Both WWI and WWII can be considered a "dark time", but according to Marshall, people made sacrifices and changed the course of history.
"If we didn't address that in WWII, the world would still be a dark place," Marshall said.
"This is not something new," he said. "Millions of people have served overseas and in combat. What makes me any different?"
"I have three children," Marshall continues. "I'm making a sacrifice too. This country was built on sacrifices."
As we collectively observe Veterans Day on Nov. 11, I implore Ms. Darr, and all other patriots, like-minded or not, to take some time to remember the many men and women in uniform, present and past, who have made, and continue to make, sacrifices every day.
Consider all the missed birthdays and anniversaries, time spent away from children, and in some cases, the lives laid down for their fellow countrymen. All so that we can enjoy the freedoms and liberties this country affords its citizens.
Even the freedom to sit on the capitol steps and protest.
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard New Media Manager
And we had no idea the video would be this popular!
Two days ago, I posted to our YouTube page, a music video produced and edited by our very own Capt. Richard Paetz. In that short period of time, it was viewed almost 400 times, and the viewership continues to grow! Thank you to everyone who had favorable comments on our YouTube page; http://www.youtube.com/user/oregonmildep.
As a special treat, the Sammus Theory (MTV's winner of new and upcoming bands) traveled to the training site from their home in Arizona to perform for the troops. The resulting video shows some of the great training Oregon Guard members receive during thier annual training, and highlights an incredible up and coming rock band.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Powell led the 234th Army Band for more than two decades. About 100 of Powell's co-workers and friends attended a formal retirement ceremony at Anderson Readiness Center on Nov. 3.
Powell enlisted in the 234th Army Band on Nov. 17, 1968 as a French horn player. He was appointed First Sergeant in 1980, a title he held until his direct appointment as warrant officer in 1983. Powell took over as Bandmaster for the 234th Army Band, leading the band until his retirement.
Powell resides in Oregon City. He has two grown daughters.
Photo above: Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, (left), places the Oregon Distinguished Service Medal around the neck of Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Powell, at his retirement ceremony Nov. 3, at the Anderson Readiness Center, Salem, Ore. Powell recieved the award in recognition of his 39 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office).
Story written by Kim Lippert, Oregon Military Public Affairs.
Having grown up in Hawaii, and having lived in Nevada for some time, I know first hand how convenient mail in ballots can be. Those two states have had, and continue to have, traditional punch-card type ballots, requiring voters to take time off from work or school in order to cast their vote.
So when one looks at the historical numbers of voting rolls here in Oregon, it's sad to see the highest voter turnout at around 65%. Because voting is so convenient here, this number should be so much higher.
In particular, those of us in uniform carry a special responsibility to turn out on November 4th and cast our votes... indeed, we are an example to other Oregonians in terms of service, sacrifice, and civic duty.
Furthermore, the very fact we have chosen to wear our nation's uniform and defend the freedoms and liberties we all enjoy as Americans means we defend that very right. That we are allowed to chose how our government is run is a model for the rest of the world.
Many of us have served overseas and have witnessed first-hand, elections rife with corruption or cronyism. Some countries don't even have elections--their citizens have no say whatsoever. Still other nations continue to this day to persecute their citizens for speaking out against their government officials and policies.
In light of these points, we should consider ourselves quite privileged.
This post is not an endorsement of any one candidate or initiative... to do so would be both illegal and unethical. It is, however, a call to action for all of us who proudly wear the uniform of America's military.
We train, fight, and die to protect the many wonderful freedoms our country has to offer, including the privilege of voting. Let's not take it for granted.
Please, before today is over, make sure you cast your vote and let your voice be heard.
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, State Public Affairs New Media Manager
The Oregon Military Department is pleased to announce its first official blog.
Here, the Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office will host discussions about current events, news, and information pertinent to members of the Oregon Military Department, their employees, family members, and business/agency partners.
We look forward to engaging you in thoughtful discourse, and the sharing of ideas on a wide range of issues important to the citizens of the great state of Oregon.