Friday, February 27, 2009

What does it mean to be a warrant officer in the Oregon Army National Guard?

Do questions like “’Why should I become a warrant officer?’, ‘What are the benefits?’, ‘What do warrant officers really do?’, and ‘Aren’t warrant officers just ‘glorified NCOs?’,” sound familiar?

As your Command Chief Warrant Officer let me try and shed some light on these questions and others like them. Here are some general descriptions and guidelines for “The Silent Professionals.”

The Army’s definition of a Warrant Officer is:

“…a highly specialized expert and trainer, who, by gaining progressive levels of expertise and leadership, operates, maintains, administers and manages the Army’s equipment, support activities or technical systems for an entire career.”

Newly appointed or junior, commissioned warrant officers (warrant officer 1 or chief warrant officer 2) normally begin their careers at the company or detachment level and function as company grade officers. Warrant officers become commissioned officers when they are promoted from warrant officer 1 to chief warrant officer 2.

Chief warrant officer 3s and 4s are more in line with the battalion or brigade level. As “specialized experts” the quality and production of work should equal if not exceed field grade officers in their particular specialty. Chief warrant officer 5 positions are usually located in the higher headquarters, with the exception of aviation. Aviation warrant officers serve as senior advisors to command.

With the “progressive levels of expertise and leadership…,” comes additional pressure to succeed. The traditional trade-off has been pay, privileges and a greater opportunity to influence policy and procedures.

If junior warrant officers are successful, they are promoted to senior warrants and earn field grade privileges. This requires hard work and dedication.

When a soldier pins on the warrant officer rank, he or she commits themselves further to the organization and success of the unit and the commander. They are leaders in their field both by knowledge and example. They must maintain the equipment and themselves by meeting all the standards and requirements including height, weight, fitness and many others.

The day of the crusty old warrant sitting in his office chewing on a cigar and barking out regulations are over. We are the technical experts of the Army, in areas ranging from earning aviator wings, to making the communication system function, to ensuring all our soldiers have the “beans and bullets” and means to get to the fight.

We make it happen.

The Oregon Army National Guard currently has six warrant officer candidates heading off to Fort Rucker, Ala. for their Basic Course and one who remains on stand-by.

Join me in wishing the following success: Bill Lowe, admin. field, graduates March 15; Steve McDaniel, aviation field, graduates April 14; Jeremy Uhrig, aviation field, graduates April 14; Raphael Toler, aviation field, graduates April 14; Robert Young, mobilization field, graduates April 14; Nick Thompson, field artillery field, graduates April 14; and Eric Gustafson, aviation field who remains on stand by.

Good luck to each of you!

Column by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Warren Zagyva,
Command Chief Warrant Officer, Oregon National Guard

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NAACP, Oregon's first African American Guard member, help celebrate African-American Heritage Month

The first African-American member of the Oregon Army National Guard was honored today during a ceremony commemorating African-American Heritage Month, held at Joint Force Headquarters in Salem, Ore.

Organized by the Oregon National Guard Diversity Council, the ceremony honored retired Master Sgt. Earl Henry Winchester—who joined the Oregon Army National Guard in 1955.

Oregon Army National Guard Chief of Staff for Army, Col. Don Bond, presented Winchester with the Oregon Exceptional Service Medal, and a framed copy of the NonCommissioned Officer Creed.

Oregon State Defense Force Colonel, Warren Aney, said a lot has changed since Winchester joined the Oregon Guard.

"You broke ground. You set a standard for all minorities to follow," Aney said to Winchester.

According to a legal essay by Bill Long, Oregon was known as the “Dixie of the North”, with laws prohibiting African Americans from owning property, and a provision in the territorial constitution, passed in 1857, banning freed slaves from even entering Oregon. As recently as the late 50s, the city of Medford had a "Sundown Law", which prohibited African Americans from being out in public after sunset.

“We’ve come a long way,” Aney said.

"Master Sgt. Winchester symbolizes our ability to recognize talent no matter what the color of your skin, or your religious background. Thank you Earl," Aney added.

Keynote speaker, Ronnie Brooks, who is the Executive Board Member of the Salem Chapter of the NAACP, addressed about a hundred citizen-airmen, citizen-soldiers, and civilian attendees who turned out for the lunch-time event in the Owen Summers building.

Brooks thanked Winchester for his sacrifice, saying he would not be today’s keynote speaker had it not been for the sacrifices of African-Americans like him, who put themselves on the line (both figuratively and literally).

“I am standing on the shoulders of people like this gentleman here,” Brooks said, as he pointed and smiled at Winchester, who sat in the front row with his wife, Virginia, sister Norma Kennedy, and son, Peter.

Winchester’s long military career began in 1942 when he joined the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 356th Engineer General Service Regiment in the European Theater as a truck driver, and served in Normandy and in northern France.

After being honorably discharged in late 1945, he re-enlisted for three more years, serving at Fort Leavenworth until being honorably discharged in 1948.

After joining the Oregon Army National Guard in December 1955, he rose through several ranks, including company First Sergeant with Company A, 162nd Combat Engineers, and worked for a number of units within Oregon.

In 1974, after being honorably discharged from the Oregon Guard, he re-enlisted with the U.S. Army Reserve, where he served as battalion operations sergeant at Headquarters, 3rd Battalion, 415th Regiment at Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Wash., until retiring from the military in 1981. All-told, Winchester served 32 years of military service.

Brooks thanked Winchester for his service and sacrifice, and encouraged Americans to come together to bridge the racial divide. He recalled a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King.

"This is a time for us to look at each other not for the color of our skin, but for the content of our character," he said.

He thanked the men and women in uniform for their "supreme sacrifice for us and our children."
Brooks spoke about his personal struggles growing up in a segregated society during the late 1960s, and how many people helped him overcome obstacles throughout his life. He eventually graduated from Texas A&M University (formerly East Texas State University), and later returned to work as the diversity program director for the school.

"This angry young man had come full circle," he said about his success. "I told myself if I ever get a chance, I'm going to help people as much as I can."

He said Guard members can help others by talking to young people, and sharing with them the sacrifices made by those in the military. Brooks suggested visiting high schools to talk about the National Guard, and to challenge youngsters to become an active participant in their communities.

"Share with them the sacrifices you've had to make. It will arouse the consciousness of our young people help them connect with our country," he said.

"It starts with you," he continued. "If you believe in yourself, then you can be somebody that others believe in."

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Social Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Photos by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Thompson,
Editor-in-Chief, The Oregon Sentinel

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oregon's newest wing command chief takes the 'plunge' for Special Olympics, encourages others to get involved

At a recent Senior Leadership Council meeting, Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, the new Oregon Air Guard Commander emphasized the importance of volunteerism for our organization.

A perfect example of what he meant took place this past Saturday at Broughton Beach of the Columbia River in Portland, Ore.

Thirteen of us 142 Fighter Wing Redhawks plunged into the Columbia River on Feb. 21, in order to raise money for the Special Olympics. Our group raised over $4,700 from pledges, while the entire body of over 500 “plungers” collected more than $76,000 for this worthy cause.

The Redhawks’ efforts were spearheaded by Staff Sgt. Jarrod Johnson of the 142 Security Forces Squadron and Master Sgt. Matt Kochosky of the 142 Operations Group. They were joined in the frigid waters of the Columbia by Brandi Bell, Neil Bohne, Tech. Sgt. Jason Cohen, Master Sgt. Don Johnson, Staff Sgt. Liz McKenna, Tech. Sgt. Greg Neuleib, Maj. Frank Page, Senior Master Sgt. Chris Roper, Col. Jeffrey Silver, Staff Sgt. Stephanie Willis and myself.

My body was cold, but my heart was warm as I dove in and swam in the 45-degreee waters of the Columbia River. The camaraderie was great and the cause was most worthwhile.

I came away from the experience quite invigorated and ready to do this an annual tradition. I encourage more of my fellow airmen to participate in the Polar Plunge next year. The 142 FW already does a creditable job of reaching out to those in need. But I will be actively looking for more ways that the 142 FW can give back to our communities.

Chief Master Sgt. Max White,
142nd Fighter Wing Command Chief

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Klamath Falls airman relates experiences in Afghanistan following return from deployment

Capt. Tim Bruner, of the 173rd Fighter Wing's Civil Engineering Squadron in Klamath Falls, Ore., recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. He related some of his experiences while there.

Prior to a Joint Expeditionary Team deployment, all airmen are required to attend Army Combat Skills Training, or CST. CST is a one month training course to familiarize other services with the Army way of doing things. Courses included weapons qualifying, Combat Life Saving (CLS), HMMWV (Humvee) training, convoy training, Army force structure, basic tactics, and a five-day field deployment.

The three Air Guard S-Teams all attended the same CST course at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. One of the benefits was that our class was all civil engineers preparing to deploy to various locations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This provided a great networking opportunity allowing us to get to know other engineers that would be in the same theaters.

We were known as a Staff Augmentation Team, or “S-Team”. Our primary mission was to provide highly technical engineering staff in the areas of public works, design, project management, planning, and command and control.

Our team was made up entirely of Air National Guardsmen. There were three Air National Guard S-Teams deployed to Afghanistan, each consisting of seven members. Each of them was located at Army Forward Operating Bases, or FOB’s.

On the FOB, we were known as the Facility Engineer Team, or FET. Aside from myself, members of our team were from the 240th Civil Engineering Flight at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Our FOB called FOB Fenty was near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Our primary mission was planning, programming, designing, and construction of facility and infrastructure projects. Overall, this experience has been great. The highlight of the deployment was being able to work with the other members of the team, who are all motivated, dedicated, and well-trained professionals.

Everyone except the commander was assigned construction projects that they are responsible for, from initial planning to completion. The commander is responsible for overseeing our entire operation, and acted as a liaison between the FET and the Army command element. He was also responsible for entertaining distinguished visitors, of which we had more than our fair share in the four months I was there.

In many ways, we felt that we had the best jobs on the base. We fell under the Army for tactical control (TACON) but under the Air Force for admin control (ADCON). We were an independent liaison, providing engineering support and working with everyone on the base since everyone has a need for facilities and infrastructure. We found that the Army is great to work with because they are used to austere living conditions. They were very appreciative of the facilities we provided. Anything is a step up from living in a tent!

We converted from an expeditionary base to a permanent base while we were there. In doing so, buildings were put in before basic infrastructure, such as water and sewer, were established. We tackled this difficult process of trying to develop this infrastructure while working around existing buildings.

Power and communications lines were put in to provide lighting, heating and air conditioning systems, and computers. We only drank bottled water and most of the toilets were portable units that must be pumped daily. There were a few water wells on base, but only part of the water is treated with ROWPU units (mobile filtration) to provide potable water for the dining facility and hospital. The rest of the water was treated with chlorine and used for showers and bathrooms, and therefore was not suitable for drinking. This is typical at most FOBs.

One of the most rewarding parts of our job was our daily interaction with the locals. We had two interpreters who were invaluable to our operation. They knew the local construction methods and the local contractors. Besides bridging the language barrier, they took the time to discuss their culture and religion with us.

The contractors work hard considering their lack of modern tools. For example, most building foundations are created with hand shovels and pick axes. Most of the buildings are built with brick and mortar. I personally saw times where concrete was poured by a “bucket line” of workers with large bowls!

For a first deployment, this was a great assignment!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Army set to reduce enlistment, re-enlistment bonuses on March 1st

If you are a soldier who is within one year of your ETS date, you might want to re-enlist now!

After March 1, 2009, re-enlistment bonuses will be reduced from $15,000 to $10,000.

The same reduction applies to soldiers who are deploying.

According to a new Selected Reserve Incentive Program guidance policy issued by The Army National Guard, most bonuses will be cut by half. The main reason for this move is that the Army has reached their end-strength numbers.

Soldiers who are close to their ETS date who wish to enlist should do so prior to adption of the new policy on March 1.

An interesting thing to note is that while the cash bonuses are nice, most soldiers don't re-enlist based solely on the money. Many anecdotally cite service to state and nation, and love of what they do as Guard members as reasons for opting to "stay in".

In this faltering economy, the cash bonuses are a great incentive for soldiers. But simply knowing that our uniformed men and women continue to raise their right hand and commit themselves to protecting the state of Oregon and our country, is something money can't buy.

If you are a soldier with questions regarding the SRIP, or the new bonus policy, please contact your unit. Oregon soldiers: you may also direct questions toward the JFHQ Education Services Officer, CW3 Diane Beach, at 503-584-3456.

For an overview of the enlistment bonus program, visit the

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Social Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seski: An exclusive interview with the official mascot for Oregon's Sesquicentennial

You may have seen him around town.

A fleeting glimpse of fur. Perhaps a grainy, Zapruder-esque video clip on the evening news. Rumors discussed around the water cooler. Sightings that make for interesting dinner conversation.

You're not imagining things. He's real, and his name is Seski.

The Oregon Military Department sleuths caught up with this mysterious and elusive figure, and pinned him down for an exclusive interview.

ORNG: Who is Seski?

Seski: Seski the mascot for Oregon 150 and Travel Oregon. People having hard time saying "sesquicentennial", so Governor ask Seski to help celebrate Oregon's 150th birthday. Also Seski's 150th birthday too! Oregon National Guard very supportive of Seski's visit.

ORNG: Where is Seski from?

Seski: My home deep in Oregon woods. Seski come out to help celebrate Oregon's 150 years of statehood. Also Seski visit and see all great things Seski missed in the last 150 years.

ORNG: Well, what do you think about what you see?

Seski: Seski think this good. The more Seski see, the more Seski like what he see.

ORNG: You've made an appearance at the Oregon 150 Ball, and at a recent Portland Trail Blazer's game, where you hung out with the team mascot Blaze. Tell me about that.

Seski: Seski have lots of fun. Seski take picture with Blaze. Blazers give Seski team jersey with number "150". Seski even on big TV screen for all to see!

ORNG: Why did you come out of the woods?

Seski: Seski want to see Oregon, and enjoy it all. So much good things in Oregon. Every part of Oregon have something to enjoy!

ORNG: What is your plan for this year?

Seski: Seski not have real timeframe. Just enjoy looking at beautiful Oregon. When Seski done, Seski go back to home in the woods.

ORNG: Any advice for Oregonians?

Seski: Seski think people of Oregon should go out and enjoy this state. Go see things you didn't see before. Go do things you didn't do before. Seski must go now... limousine waiting.

Well folks, there you have it, straight from Seski Sasquatch himself.

To see Seski's Facebook page, go here. To read Seski's blog, go here. Or you can follow Seski's travels throughout Oregon via Twitter, here.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Social Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New GI Bill gives Guard, Reserve members their educational due

The new GI Bill will include National Guard and Reserve members in what experts are calling the, "... most comprehensive and generous educational benefits the U.S. government has ever offered."

The new bill is slated to be made available to military members in August of this year.

According to a recent article in the Army Times, veterans' education benefits will undergo a "life-changing" transformation that will suddenly make a four-year college degree affordable for a new generation of wartime veterans."

The old bill, known as Montgomery GI Bill, offered up to $48,000 in tuition benefits to anyone who served in any branch of the military except the National Guard and Reserves. National Guard members and Reservists received about $12,000 under the same bill.

Not anymore.

According to Keith Wilson, education spokesperson for the Veterans Administration, National Guardsmen and Reservists didn't really have a stake in the old GI Bill.

"Now we have one program that covers both the active duty and the Guard and Reserves," Wilson said in an interview with Army Times.

Indeed, everyone who entered the military on or after September 10, 2001, and has at least 90 days of active duty service is eligible under the new law.

The range of benefits includes tuition and fees equal to each state's most expensive state institution, for in-state, undergraduate study. However, servicemembers who elect to attend a more expensive private college are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, where the VA and the school will split the difference between the benefit and the actual cost, Wilson said.

Also included in the benefit is a monthly housing allowance, based on the Department of Defense's basic housing allowance.

Those who qualify for the bill may be eligible for;
- A stipend of up to $1,000 per year for books and supplies
- Up to $1,200 toward tutorial assistance
- Up to $2,000 for licensing or certification tests
- Up to $500 to help cover transportation costs for students in remote areas

Ever since 9-11, National Guard members and Reservists across the country have been expected to step up to the plate. They have fought, and in some cases died, alongside their active duty counterparts. Indeed, over half of those returning as veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are from the nation's National Guard and Reserves.

It's about time we treat soldiers and airmen in the National Guard and Reserves the same way we do other veterans. Not only is it a great way to help returning military members and their families, but it is a wonderful way for our nation to say 'thank you' to those who have sacrificed so much for their country.

For more information about the new GI Bill, visit the VA website here. Oregon Guard members are encouraged to contact their education office, or see the military liaison at the school of your choice.
Oregon Army National Guard members: please contact CW3 Diane Beach at 503-584-3456 for more information.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oregon National Guard helps celebrate 150 years of statehood

Over the weekend, about a thousand Oregonians helped celebrate the 150th anniversary of statehood at a gala event in Salem, Ore., which also happened to fall on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.

The 1859-themed party at the Salem Convention Center also coincided with the Oregon National Guard's Senior Leader's Conference and annual Military Ball, which was attended by many Oregon Air and Oregon Army National Guard members and their spouses.

Oregon's Governor, Theodore R. Kulongoski, and Oregon's First Lady, Ms. Mary Oberst, the Chair of the Oregon 150 Committee, were also in attendance.

Many senior leaders of the Oregon National Guard, including Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, Oregon Air Guard Commander, Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, and Adjutant General Deputy Director and Commander of the State Defense Force, Brig. Gen. Michael Caldwell, helped celebrate the state's sesquicentennial.

Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees, joined Spc. Alex Amen of Oregon's 234 Army Band, and Gov. Ted Kulongoski, during the cake-cutting ceremony. The trio used a saber to cut the birthday cake following official remarks which kicked off the Oregon Ball.

"Oregon's Own" 234 Army Band played "Big-Band" tunes upstairs, an 1859 band played music of the era in the downstairs ballroom, while period correct dancers twirled the night away. While Oregon Guard soldiers and airmen wore their "Mess Dress" uniforms, many attendees took the 1859 theme seriously.

Costumes ranged from Civil War soldiers and Pioneer gentlemen to women in crenolined skirts and period-correct ball gowns that would have made Scarlett O'Hara blush. The mix of cocktail dresses, formal gowns, top hats and military uniforms made for a surreal scene, but according to some ball-goers, a "roaring good time".

A silent auction, held in the convention center's foyer, displayed many works by local painters, photographers and sculptors. Proceeds from the auction went to benefit the Oregon National Guard Association Education Fund--an organization which benefits Oregon Guard members and their dependents for continuing education endeavors.

According to CW3 Diane Beach, six $1,500 scholarships were awarded to guard members and their dependents this year. The awards are a direct result of fundraising efforts by the association, including events like the auction and military ball, she said.

Governor Kulongoski spoke of Oregon's pioneer spirit as the basis for the state's strength and resilience, but called upon that same strength and ingenuity to weather the current national financial crisis and rising unemployment. He challenged all Oregonians to work together to help build the foundation for another prosperous 150 years.

To see more photos from the event, visit the Salem Statesman Journal website here. To find out more about Oregon's sesquicentennial observations throughout 2009, go here.

To see the entire calendar of events celebrating Oregon's sesquicentennial, go here.

Photos courtesy of Salem Statesman Oregon 150 header courtesy of
If you have photos from the Oregon 150 Ball, please share them with us! Send them to:, or post them here with your comments.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents Day: A reflection on how far we've come

A federal holiday, most folks are likely enjoying their day off. Across the country, people are taking in the sun, catching up on projects around the house, or firing up the barbeques in anticipation of a wonderful meal with friends and family.

This being the weekend Oregonians celebrate 150 years of statehood, I thought it fitting to take a look back at what was going on in 1859. My search took me to an interesting website which gives deep insight into the thoughts of the day.

But let's start with a review.

In 1859, the steamroller is invented, the first oil well is drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the Baseball Club of Washington, D.C. is organized. It is also the year Oregon officially enters the union.

In literature, Charles Darwin publishes "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection", and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, English poet A.E. Houseman, and Nobel prize-winning French physicist Pierre Curie are born.
In early 1859, James Buchanan was president, but by November of that year, Abraham Lincoln would run (and win) the presidency.

The Rosenbach Museum has collected and scanned a number of letters and speeches by President Lincoln, and a number of other notable persons from America's history including Declaration of Independence signer, Robert Morris and President George Washington, at their "Manuscripts Online" site.

The unveiling of the President Lincoln online manuscripts coincided with President's Day and Lincoln's birthday observances.

Actual scans of legal cases, and correspondence from Presidents Lincoln and Washington are included on the site. You can browse through a 1766 hand-drawn sketch of plans for Washington's proposed farm at Little Hunting Creek, or a letter written by Lincoln to a carpet supplier asking them to match the color and type of carpet to a swatch he sent earlier.

But its not all housekeeping and internal notes. Included in the collection are Lincoln's correspondence to various members of Congress regarding the Civil War, and the original manuscript of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The documents give a keen insight to not just the vernacular of the time period, but also the pressing issues of the day. Given that the images contained in the site are scans of the actual historical documents, side notes, corrections, and illustrations which are included in the files also give insight to the authors' mindset at the time of the documents' creation--something that cannot be gleaned from reading passages in a history book.

The site's authors plan to add more scans of other historical figures over time.

To see the entire Rosenbach Museum & Library "Manuscripts Online" site, which features presidential manuscripts and writings, go to

To see the complete manuscript, and to visit the Abraham Lincoln web project, visit:, which includes photos of President Lincoln, and other historical documents from other notables of his time.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oregon Guard closes 100-year old armory

A week ago tomorrow, the Cottage Grove Armory closed its doors for the last time.

During a ceremony on Feb. 6, a number of people--National Guard members, community members, families and the general public, honored the city of Cottage Grove and the historical site.

The 100-year old landmark is the oldest in the state. The original building was constructed in 1909 at the corner of Main Street and North River Road, on the site of the old Masonic Lodge. The armory housed Company E, 4th Infantry until 1911, when the unit was reassigned as 6th Co., Coast Artillery. Cottage Grove remained the home of this unit until the advent of the 186th Infantry in 1952.

The newer armory, completed in 1931, quickly turned into a local community gathering place. It even hosted Oregon Governor Julius L. Meier during the dedication ceremony. The facility cost $60,000 to build, and was completed almost entirely using local labor and materials. Over the years, it hosted basketball games, roller skating, dances, BMD queen coronations, concerts and the occasional graduation ceremony. Most recently it has been the training home for Northwinds School of Gymnastics.

In 1961, the armory became the new home of HH Co., 2-162 Infantry Battalion--a unit which served in England during WWI, and as part of the 41st Division, served the longest deployments during WWII. It later served with distinctions during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005.

The Oregon National Guard has moved their personnel to the $39 million, 170,000-square-foot Lane County Armed Forces Reserve Center in Springfield, Ore. They will share the facility with the Marine Corps, and Naval Reserve, local branches of the U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.

Following the ceremony on the cold, rainy day, the American flag was lowered and folded for the last time. It was cased and presented to city officials as the sound of bagpipes echoed through the quiet streets.

After the Oregon Guard has vacated the building, it will go through a month-long cleaning, appraisal and environmental study. It will then be offered to other agencies for purchase, and if there are no takers, it will go on to public sale. According to many reports, the city of Cottage Grove is hoping to purchase the building, and turn it once more into a centerpiece, and gathering place for their town.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Media Manager, Oregon Military Department
(Special thanks to duchompski for the photo!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

U.S. Army takes lead on sexual harassment/assault education and prevention

The Army is placing renewed emphasis on sexual harassment and awareness within its ranks, according to a recent story on

After restructuring the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP office, it has begun distributing "I. A.M. Strong" sexual assault prevention information kits to Army commanders.

I. A.M. stands for "Intervene, Act, Motivate."

The kits contain a Commander's Guide, Leader's How-To Guide, brochures and wallet cards for each Soldier, a DVD, poster series, and banners. The DVD portrays real victims and real accounts of sexual assault from female Soldiers.

"Personal involvement of all leaders and soldiers is necessary for successful prevention efforts," said Maj. Gen. John R. Hawkins III, the Army G-1's director of Human Resources Policy. "All leaders, military and Army Civilian, must maintain an environment that rejects sexual assault and attitudes and behaviors that promote such acts."

According to JFHQ-HRO, the Oregon National Guard has moved the responsibilities of sexual assault/harassment education from a part-time position to a full-time position. The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Capt. Rey Agullana, will begin working at JFHQ on March 1.

While the SARC responsibilities and position has been around a long time, with the increase in deployments, a program agenda is being put in place to increase awareness and education, said Capt. Dawn DeLand, state Equal Employment Manager for the Oregon Military Department.

"Our main goal is to decrease sexual harassment and sexual assaults from occuring in the first place," Capt. DeLand said. "But to also provide better support systems when they do occur.

In 2007, the number of sexual assaults in the Army was twice that of its sister services. The program intends to ensure a cultural about-face: to transform Army climate and become the model for the nation in prevention of sexual harassment and assault, officials said.

In late 2007, the Air Force issued a "zero-tolerance" policy on sexual harassment. The guidelines include infractions ranging from physical contact and gestures, to off-color jokes and comments.

Prior to Capt. Agullana's appointment as the full-time SARC, the positions duties were assigned to Col. Marilyn Woodward, who retired in December, 2008.

To read the policy on the Army Sexual Harassment program, go here. To view the educational video, go here.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Portland Trailblazers basketball team hosts Oregon National Guardsmen, families

For Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Evans and his family, spending an evening with an NBA basketball team was a dream come true.

“We don’t get a chance to go to the games, so they’ll really enjoy this,” Evans said about his four sons, as he hoisted his youngest, Jacob, onto his shoulder for a picture with Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach, Nate McMillan. “They’re going to remember this forever.”

Evans, who is with Alpha Battery, 2-218 Field Artillery Battalion, will deploy to Iraq this summer, along with more than 3,000 other Oregon National Guard members.

He and his wife Jennifer, and three other sons, Gavin, Dylan and Braden, joined 30 other Oregon Guard members and their families at the Memorial Coliseum, the evening of Feb. 9, during the “Make It Better Holiday Carnival” hosted by the Portland Trail Blazers NBA basketball franchise. The event was originally scheduled for Dec. 20, but was canceled due to inclement weather.

The annual event, sponsored by the Trail Blazers and Nike, is a way to say thank you to various groups throughout Oregon’s communities, said Traci Rose, Vice-President of Community Relations for the Trail Blazers.

“Our organization is very sensitive to what’s going on with the war and the families who are affected,” Rose said. “Every year we get together and throw a big carnival for a group, and this year we decided to do it for military members and their families.”

The event included carnival-style games, an inflatable play zone, a video game kiosk, double-shot basketball and ping pong. Nike provided special gift bags for the children. The soldiers and their families filled up on hotdogs, cotton candy and popcorn, or played games in the carnival-like atmosphere alongside NBA players who towered over the excited children.

Across the hall, the Oregon National Guard’s 102 Civil Support Team set up a video-conference system, where Guard members and their families could interact via live teleconference with soldiers at Camp Victory in Iraq.

Allen Pine sat at the conference table with his two sons, Ryan, 16, and Liam, 14. His wife, Sgt. 1st Class Nancy Pine, is deployed to Iraq with the Oregon Army National Guard’s 2-641 Aviation Battalion.

“We talk to her (on the phone) about every other night, but it’s not the same as being able to see them,” he said. “You get a feel for how they’re doing when you see their face.”

Pine thanked the Trail Blazers for organizing the event, and added that as of late, the team seems to be more involved in the community.

“It’s great feedback for our community,” he added.

Trail Blazers Head Coach, Nate McMillan, welcomed the soldiers and their families before introducing about 10 team members scattered throughout the crowd—which was highlighted by the team members’ red and black basketball jerseys, intermixed with the gray of the soldiers’ Army combat uniforms. McMillan told the soldiers it was “their night”, and thanked them for their service and sacrifice.

“When I found out we were hosting the military, I knew we would have the opportunity to meet some of the soldiers in person,” McMillan said. “We wanted to tell them thank you—not just the soldiers, but also the families for the sacrifice they all make to protect our country and our freedoms.”

McMillan said all his players were enthusiastic and supportive of meeting the soldiers during the event. Most were surprised by the number of years most soldiers have been in the military.

“Most guys I talked to were in for more than 15 years,” McMillan said. “I think that says a lot about these soldiers and what they do for our country.”

Greg Oden, who plays #52, Center for the Trail Blazers, said he had a great time meeting and talking to the soldiers.

“These guys do so much for our country, it’s great to do something for them,” Oden said.

Rose said the event was fulfilling for the team members because once the season starts, they spend up to nine months on the road, usually away from home. Meeting the soldiers was a chance for them to give back to the community, but it also gave them a chance to show their appreciation for the sacrifices soldiers and their families go through.

“In all honesty, the soldiers are the heroes,” Rose said.

Rose’s sentiments seemed lost on several of the soldiers’ children, who ran excitedly from one player to the next, asking for autographs or photo opportunities.

Sgt. Ryan Creswell, of Bravo Co., 41 Special Troops Battalion, and his wife Christina, son Jackson and daughter Emma spoke to McMillan before handing their camera to a bystander to take a picture of the group.

“This is great,” Creswell said.

“We told our players about today’s event, and they understand how dangerous the situation is for our country, and these soldiers fighting for us,” McMillan said.

“I know the words are not enough to say thank you, and you wish there was something else you could do,” McMillan continued. “So this is a way for our organization to show our support and thanks.”

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Emerging Digital Media Manager, Oregon Military Department

Monday, February 9, 2009

Warning! New Facebook virus may take over your computer

And that's not a joke.

According to reports from TechCrunch, most viruses floating around Facebook have, up till now, been merely annoying. They've included malicious software packets aimed at gathering user data for phishing scams to inboxes filled with spam.

But a newer sophisticated malware package aims at infiltrating Facebook users' computers with the goal of takeover.

The Trojan software comes in the form of a worm that spreads through an infected user's account via messages entitled, “LOL. You’ve been catched on hidden cam, yo:” and a link to a random URL.

The linked website is a YouTube-like page (see below) that shows a video player along with what looks like a standard browser message to update your Flash installation. Clicking on the button begins a malware installation of a file called “codecsetup.exe.” According to technicians at TechCrunch, clicking on the exe will likely result in your computer being controlled by a remote user.

Bottom line: If something seems suspicious, it usually is. Don't click on a link that doesn't look kosher.

Additionally, TechCrunch said, "A nasty feature of the worm is that it takes the profile picture of the sending infected user and adds it to the linked website. This makes it all look much more legitimate for the potential victim."

Unfortunately there's little Facebook can do to combat these scams except to try to filter the web links associated with the malicious software.

The takeaway is this... All this is not new. The bad guys are targeting an entirely new user group on Facebook the same way they did to MySpace years ago. The best course of action is to be careful. When in doubt, don't open the attachment. If it looks suspicious, it probably is.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Emerging Media Manager

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oregon Guard contacting soldiers who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals

SALEM, Ore. -- The Oregon National Guard is reaching out in February to hundreds of soldiers possibly exposed to a hazardous chemical during a deployment to Iraq in 2003.

Based on records from the deployment, the ORNG believes more than 50 soldiers may have worked in an area with sodium dichromate, an anti-corrosive agent that poses health risks.

Strict regulations and policies govern the use of the potentially carcinogenic chemical in the U.S.; however, officials are concerned soldiers had exposure to mishandled sodium dichromate in the aftermath of initial U.S. operations.

Oregon's 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry sent more than 433 soldiers to the Middle East, with one company stationed in Saudi Arabia and two companies stationed in Kuwait, in March, 2003.

Some of the soldiers stationed in Kuwait entered Iraq to provide security for civilian contractors at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility where the exposure may have occurred.

"Soldiers of 1st Bn., 162nd Inf. were assigned personal security details throughout southern Iraq to Kellogg, Brown and Root or workers restoring the oil infrastructure for the nation of Iraq," said Lt. Col. B. J. Prendergast, who deployed as the 1st Bn. 2nd Inf. executive officer. "This duty was done during daylight hours and covered many oil infrastructure sites in Southern Iraq."

Though about fifty soldiers possibly had direct exposure, the ORNG wants all soldiers on the deployment to have awareness of the situation because they may have had incidental exposure when soldiers returned from their missions at Qarmat Ali.

"We want the entire group to be aware they were potentially exposed," said Col. Michael Dunn, the Oregon Army National Guard State Surgeon. "It's possible they could have had secondary exposure in the living area from the soldiers who worked at the facility."

The notification process by the state is a personal concern for Lt. Col. Prendergast. He is one of the soldiers who went to the water treatment facility.

"My concern is identifying those soldiers that had a possible exposure and ensuring they understand the process and points of contact in case they need additional support or guidance," said Lt. Col. Prendergast.

Oregon provided security for KBR employees and contractors until the Indiana National Guard took over the mission in May of 2003. The soldiers from Indiana conducted the mission until September 2003.

The possible exposure first came to light after KBR employees testified before a Senate Committee in June 2008 during a hearing chaired by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan.

According to published senate reports, KBR employees who worked at the Qarmat Ali plant testified their work exposed them to sodium dichromate, and they testified Indiana soldiers had similar exposure. It later came to light that Oregon preceded Indiana on the security mission as Indiana Senator Evan Bayh called for a more detailed review from the Department of the Army of what actually happened.

All potentially exposed veterans can receive a comprehensive Gulf War Registry examination at their nearest Veterans Administration medical center. Health care providers at VA hospitals are trained to respond to environmental health issues perform these exams.

According to ORNG officials, current and former soldiers of 1st Bn., 162nd Inf. should receive a letter in early February. For more information, soldiers should contact their chain of command or the project officer, Staff Sgt. Jerry Jepson at (503) 584-2296.

Story authored by Maj. Michael S. Braibish, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office
Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Emerging Digital Media Manager

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How do you pack when you're leaving for Iraq?

SALEM, Ore. -- Adam Lulay spent his last night in Oregon with his pregnant wife, Megan, whose original due date of Jan. 22 is now early February.

Even that short delay is too much: Lulay, a captain in the Oregon Army National Guard unit mobilizing for service in Iraq, had hoped he would see the baby.

“I’m having a little girl,” said Lulay (at left). “I’d love to be able to see her and hold her at least one time before I head out the door.”

The soldiers from the Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, and 158th Aviation mobilized last week to deploy to Iraq under the command of Geoffrey G. Vallee.

On Saturday morning, 50 members of the Oregon Guard Unit departed from a Salem airfield in 12 UH-60 Black Hawks. Friends and family gathered at 6:30 a.m. and wait for the fog to lift. Over 80 other members of the unit will take a commercial flight to their destination at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.

To read the rest of the story, visit the website here.

Special thanks to freelance journalist Cali Bagby for this report.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Emerging Digital Media Manager

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gresham City Council thanks Oregon Guardsmen for their lifesaving efforts during Oregon's winter storms

On the evening of Feb. 3, the City of Gresham honored 29 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers for their assistance during severe winter storms, Dec. 22-27, 2008.

The special ceremony took place during the Gresham City Council meeting in the Gresham City Hall's Council Chambers, presided over by Gresham's Mayor, Shane T. Bemis.

Bemis read a proclamation to the Oregon Army National Guard's 141st Brigade Support Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. Dan Morris, as a number of the unit’s soldiers and their family members watched.

“On behalf of our citizens of Gresham, we express our deep appreciation for the men and women of the Oregon National Guard,” the mayor stated in front of the standing-room only crowd.

Maj. Morris presented Mayor Bemis with a 141st BSB coin on behalf of Lt. Col. Brian James, battalion commander.

“I’m very proud of my guys. I’ve heard nothing but praise,” said Maj. Morris.

Maj. Morris thanked Mayor Bemis and the city’s fire and police personnel, many of whom were also in the audience.

“I can’t promise state assets, but if you ever need our help in the future, we’ll be glad to do it,” Maj. Morris joked.

The soldiers are members of the Oregon Army National Guard's 141st Brigade Support Battalion. They were placed on state active duty to assist emergency responders reach snow-bound citizens during heavy snow and ice storms around the Christmas holidays.

The unit provided Humvees and drivers so police and emergency medical technicians could assist citizens in Gresham neighborhoods--many of which are remote or involve steep hills--rendering typical emergency response vehicles incapable of performing their duties in the deep snow.

“This was some of the nastiest stuff we’ve seen in a long time,” said Gary Martin, a firefighter with Gresham Fire Station #71. “With the Humvees chained up, we had no problem reaching people who needed help.”

Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger said the heavy snow prevented access to about half of the entire city of Gresham.

“When you’re tasked with providing law enforcement to the community and you can’t do it because you lack the resources, it’s a bit disconcerting,” he said. “We were really in a crisis. So when I saw those Humvees pull up, it was quite a relief.”

According to 141st BSB Executive Officer, Maj. Dan. Morris, during the storm response, two other soldiers went well above the call of duty during an emergency medical call.

Spc. Matthew White and Spc. Chelsea Moore, both of Alpha Company, drove a firefighter to a home in response to an emergency call from the home of Gary Palas. Palas had slipped on his icy front porch after returning home from dialysis treatment, tearing out the dialysis shunt. But instead of an ambulance showing up in his driveway, the 9-1-1 call resulted in an Oregon Army National Guard Humvee.

“If they had not shown up, I may not be alive today,” Palas said, flanked by soldiers at the Gresham City Council meeting.

According to Maj. Morris, both Spc. White and Spc. Moore will also receive the Oregon Exceptional Service Medal with Gold Star for their selfless sacrifice and efforts ‘well beyond the call of duty.’

Also assisting during the winter storms was a group of Oregon Air Guardsmen from the 116th Air Control Squadron Rear Detachment, who helped residents in Columbia County. As we remember from the news reports, Columbia County--specifically the town of Vernonia--was hard hit by severe flooding in December 2007.

Again and again, Guardsmen show that they are not just vibrant and important members of their local communities, but they continue to live up to the National Guard creed of "Always Ready, Always There," by both their example and actions.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Emerging Digital Media Manager

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oregon National Guard Facebook questions prompt blog post

Who is Owen Summers?

I get that question a lot lately.

It used to be only when I said I work in the Owen Summers building. People would say, “Oh, is that the Military Department building?”

Indeed, they are one in the same. But Owen Summers is more than just a photo on the wall as you enter the headquarters for the Oregon National Guard.

As the New & Emerging Media Manager for the Oregon National Guard, I was responsible for launching various Web 2.0 tools for the organization, including the official Facebook page. After much consternation, I settled upon a name for this page which I thought was appropriate: Owen Summers.

Unfortunately, majority of the soldiers and airmen in the Oregon National Guard have no idea who Owen Summers is, or the impact he had on our organization. The purpose of this story is to enlighten you on the person who is alternately referred to as Oregon’s “First Volunteer” and “The Father of the Oregon National Guard”.

Owen Summers was born in Brockville, Canada, on June 13, 1850. At the age of two, his parents, John and Elizabeth Ann Summers moved the family to Chicago, Ill., where his father worked as a cobbler. Five years later, Owen and four siblings were left as orphans after his parents and a younger sister died during the cholera epidemic.

Six year old Owen was taken to a farm near Frankfort, Ill., and spent most of his youth working on the farm in exchange for room and board. He attended a small schoolhouse in La Center, Lee County, Ill.

At the age of 12, Owen and three of his schoolmates tried to enlist in the Army to join the ranks of those fighting in the Civil War, but were refused by recruiting officers because they were too young. Undeterred, Owen tried unsuccessfully twice more. On his fourth attempt to enlist in 1865, he garnered the help of a Pennsylvania Dutchman, who consented to become his guardian. With the permission of this man, the examining Army surgeon granted his acceptance into the United States Army. He was barely 14 years old.

On February 1, 1865, Owen joined Company H, Third Illinois Cavalry. He served in the eastern part of Mississippi, and later in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. Following the close of the war, his unit was ordered to St. Louis, Mo., and fought against the Sioux Indians in Minnesota and the Dakotas before being mustered out of the service on Dec. 11, 1865.

In January, 1875, he headed west, taking odd jobs and bouncing back and forth between San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland. He eventually settled in Portland, Ore., where he and his brother-in-law, J.C. Olds, founded a crockery and glassware business known as Olds & Summers. The company occupied a building at No. 183 First Street in downtown Portland.

After several set-backs, including a fire which destroyed their building and inventory in 1886, Owen persisted in his business endeavors, becoming a force in the local trade, becoming a well respected, and prominent merchant in the Portland business community.

During this time, Owen had been appointed to the state legislature as the United States Appraiser of the port of Portland. He worked closely with the Oregon delegation and the general assembly on the passage of a bill which resulted in the creation of a militia for the state of Oregon. The bill allowed for the reestablishment of a State Adjutant General, and three regiments and a company of Veteran Guards, composed of ex-members of Civil War regiments—of which he was chosen as first lieutenant.

According to the new law, which came to be known as the “Summers Law,” Oregon’s militia was authorized a minimum strength of 1,320 men in one battalion and each of its three regiments. Furthermore, Summers oversaw the outfitting of the units, and the creation of an efficient, disciplined force.

In 1887, the militia was reorganized into the Oregon National Guard, and Owen was elected as lieutenant colonel of the First Regiment. Seven years later, he was promoted to the rank of colonel.

At the opening of the Spanish-American War, all National Guard troops were ordered to Portland and consolidated into the Second Oregon Regiment of the United States Volunteers. Colonel Summers was named as commander of this new group, and on May 24, 1898, the regiment sailed to the Philippines. The unit was the first military unit to leave the continental United States, and along with the First California and five companies of the 14th U.S. Infantry, were the first to arrive in a foreign country during the war. The men under Summers found him kindly, considerate and helpful.

Col. Summers’ unit was involved in several battles, including the advance on Guadalupe, the battle of Malabon, and the liberation of Manila. Among the many telegraphs Col. Summers received, the following is said to be his most prized:

Manila, P.I., August 30, 1898

Col. O. Summers, Commander, 2d Oregon U.S.V.:

Sir: I desire to express to you in very strong terms my appreciate of the manner in which you and your regiment performed the very difficult and delicate duties of acting provost marshal and provost guard during the time immediately following the capitulation of Manila. It gives me much pride and pleasure on the eve of my departure to recall the way in which I have been supported by all of my troops, and the cheerful fortitude with which they have endured the hardships of the campaign.

Very respectfully,
Wesley Merritt,
Major General, U.S.A.

In 1899, just before his regiment returned to Oregon, Col. Summers was recommended for promotion to the rank of brigadier general. Then, on Sept. 1, 1899, Summers was reappointed as the United States appraiser by the President in Portland, Ore. He shortly began re-immersing himself in the business community, founding Summers & Prail Crockery Company—a company he sold shortly thereafter.

On July 23, 1880, Summers married Clara T. Olds, a native of Oregon, and sister to his old business partner, J.C. Olds. The two had only one child, Owen George.

In his later years, Summers became active in civic and social circles. He joined the Commercial Club, Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He also became a Mason, and was a charter member of Columbia Lodge No. 114.

Summers died of pneumonia in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 2, 1911. He was 60. He is buried in River View Cemetery in Portland, Ore.

The title of “Father of the Oregon National Guard” is appropriate, given Summers’ accomplishments throughout his life. The legacy Summers created lives on in the evolution of the 2d Oregon Regiment to what we know today as the 2nd Infantry, 162nd Battalion, also earning him the title of “Oregon’s First Volunteer”.

Moreover, his effort to create Oregon’s militia lives on in today’s Oregon National Guard. Summer’s example of citizen-soldier, model businessman, and successful statesman, is a proud heritage to which all Oregonians can aspire.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
New & Emerging Media Manager, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

Information for this post resourced from Oregon State Defense Force History website,, and