Several representatives from city and state government, and Oregon National Guard command, including Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, and Major General Raymond F. Rees, the Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, were in attendance.
The soldiers are planning to depart tomorrow with their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. The unit's pilots and flight crews will train at Fort Sill, Okla., for about two months before departing for a deployment of about one year in Iraq.
The mission also includes two detachment units, which brings the total number to about 120 men and women from the Oregon Army National Guard.
While Oregonians were wishing these brave men and women farewell, a local television station in Portland called the Public Affairs Office. The question they posed to us (and a very valid concern at that), is probably something many Oregonians are pondering, which is the impetus for this post...
"If you guys are sending your helicopters and crews to Iraq, what's going to happen during fire-fighting season, and who is going to help with search and rescues?"
The answer is very much like the signature motto of the National Guard: 'Always ready, Always there.'
Oregon National Guard leadership foresaw the concern created by deploying these resources. So an agreement was struck with the Idaho and Indiana to provide aircraft which our crews could utilize if necessary.
The helicopter from Idaho will be in Oregon through mid-March. Two helicopters from Indiana will then be available for the duration of the deployment. In addition, there are four Oregon National Guard CH-47 helicopters stationed in Pendleton.
The Oregon National Guard will still be able to serve the people of Oregon while serving the people of the United States and helping abroad. The way in which we provide that service has changed, but Oregonians can rest assured we’ve got their backs.
Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
New & Emerging Media Manager, Oregon National Guard
Maj. Mike Braibish, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Officer, contributed to this post.