Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Oregon National Guard is now on Twitter!

The Oregon National Guard's Public Affairs Department is officially on Twitter.

In light of the recent rise in popularity of the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Twitter feeds as a result of the H1N1 virus scare, the Oregon National Guard's Public Affairs team thought it would be a good idea to utilize one of the fastest growing segments of online text messaging in order to get the word out to interested parties.

Anyone can follow our Tweets. Our Twitter URL is:

We will use this method to get important updates and information out to the public, the news media, our airmen, soldiers and their families, employers and supporters.

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

Veterans Administration to accept new GI Bill applications starting May 1

Applications for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill will be accepted by the Veterans Affairs Department beginning May 1, according the VA and Defense Department officials.

The application process for the new program that takes effect Aug. 1 will be fully electronic over a secure Internet connection that can be accessed through VA’s education benefits Web site.

Early enrollments will allow VA to work out kinks in a process that is expected to have more than 450,000 people apply for college benefits in the first year of the program. Calculating payments will be complicated by factors such as the length of active military service since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of credits, the location of the institution of higher learning, and in the case of private institutions, whether the college or university is taking part in a tuition-reduction program.

Stakes are high for VA to implement the new program that promises to cover full tuition and fees for attending public colleges and universities, plus provide a monthly living expense, book allowance and other benefits. Congress, veterans’ service organizations and people wanting to use the new benefits program are all concerned after VA warned of the difficulty of launching such a sweeping program less than one year after it was signed into law.

The VA had about three years to fully implement the Montgomery GI Bill, the last major change in veterans education benefits that took effect in 1986. VA officials, including Keith Wilson, who heads the department’s education service, have expressed confidence that the program will launch successfully.

“I am personally committed to ensuring the success of this program, as is every employee working tirelessly on this project,” Wilson said March 25 at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing.All active-duty service members are expected to receive e-mail notifications that the application process has started, VA officials said.

Being pre-certified as eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill would make it easier to complete the enrollment process later this summer when the program is fully launched.While applications are being accepted, some details of the new program remain unknown. The Defense Department has yet to announce how service members will qualify for a key part of the new GI Bill, transferring unused benefits to a spouse or children.

VA sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they had hoped transferability rules would be announced before the application process began so active-duty service members would know if they were interested in enrolling even if they were not personally going to use their benefits in the fall.

An unexplained holdup in the Pentagon left a big hole in the benefits plan, but VA officials decided to press ahead with accepting applications, and will simply tell applicants that full details are still to come.

Defense Department sources said transfer rights rules have been approved by the services but final approval has not been received from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which reviews regulations.

For more information, visit the VA's official GI Bill website at:

Story by Rick Maze and William H. McMichael, Army Times. This story will also appear in the May 2009 issue of the Oregon Sentinel.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oregon National Guard distributes state website to help combat H1N1 virus

Cases of a new strain of influenza known as H1N1, which many are referring to as the "Swine Flu", are now being reported in several states and countries. This announcement is to assist you in identifying the virus, and important steps you and your family can take to avoid getting sick.

What is H1N1?

H1N1 is a respiratory illness related to seasonal influenza, but not usually seen in people. None of the ill people are known to have been in contact with pigs, which is the most common route of exposure for humans. This suggests that transmission may have been from person to person. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state health departments are working together to learn more about the infection.

What are the signs and symptoms of H1N1?

The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the virus.

What can I do to stay healthy?

· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough sneeze or touch common items like doorknobs and stairway railings.
· Alcohol-based hands cleaners are effective in helping to fight the virus.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
· Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

If you get sick, it’s recommended that you stay at home, and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. In addition to preventative measures, try to stay in good general health, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not to touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus.

If you have any questions regarding prevention or identification of the virus, contact:
Capt. Randy Lynch, 503-584-2285.

For more information, visit the Oregon State Flu website at:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund: How it helps Oregon's military members and their families

The Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund provides cash aid for Oregon National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and their Families. The program is designed for soldiers and airmen of the Oregon National Guard and their immediate family members (spouse, surviving spouse, child, or stepchild) who are in need of emergency financial assistance.

Emergency financial assistance includes; housing expenses (utilities, insurance, emergency house repairs, rent assistance or food); emergency medical or dental expenses; emergency transportation, legal assistance or temporary income assistance. The Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund is the Oregon National Guard’s own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to helping the ‘Guard’ take care of its own.

The Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund has maintained its success through the generous donations from both the general public and from the Oregon National Guard Family.

The Oregon National Guard is grateful for donations received from many businesses and corporations. The Oregon National Guard and the program’s volunteer board provides for many of the program’s administration requirements, thereby insuring donated dollars go directly to those needing emergency financial assistance.

Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Our FEIN is 93-0915051. Although sponsored by the Oregon National Guard, the Emergency Relief Fund receives no direct funding from the government.

All donations to the Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund are used to support Soldiers, Airmen and their families. Checks should be made payable to Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund (or simply the letters “ORNGERF”). Contributions should be mailed to:

Oregon Military Department
Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund
P.O. Box 14350
Salem OR 97309-5047

The online donation form can be found here.

If you have additional questions about donating to the Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund, you may contact us at 503-584-3989 or 503-584-3939.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

142nd Fighter Wing stands up first ever student flight

Staff Sgt. Joe King, 142FW Student Flight Fitness Director, briefs students on the route for their 1.5-mile run at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., April 18, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs).

A group of new Redhawks attended the first 142nd Fighter Wing Student Flight meeting at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., April 18, 2009.

The student flight is made up of new recruits and prior service members waiting to attend U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training and technical schools. The group of about 30 individuals met during the fighter wing’s Unit Training Assembly.

While the student flight’s course work on UTA weekends might be review for some, for others, the military culture, customs and courtesies, and rank recognition is brand new, said student flight officer in charge, Capt. Lisa Scott.

The aim of the program is to mentor incoming airmen about the rigors of Basic Military Training and technical schools, Scott said.

“It’s critical that we take care of our airmen from the very beginning,” she said.

According to the curriculum plan, participants will memorize Air Force core values and study Air Force Instruction. Periodic meetings and presentations from section first sergeants and chiefs, in addition to instruction on military acronyms and watching safety videos will be the norm. Scott said the students will have ‘homework’ that aims help them transition into becoming Redhawks.

Students will also participate in a regular physical fitness program, headed up by Staff Sgt. Joe King, of the 142 Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintenance Group.

“Even though they haven’t been formally trained in the military, they can still acquire knowledge that’ll help them be successful in their careers,” Scott added.

Senior Master Sgt. Kirk Robinson, Oregon Air National Guard Recruiting and Retention Superintendant, said the student flight provides a basic transition into military culture.

“What are the standards? What are the expectations we have of them?” Robinson asks. “If they’re going to look like airmen, they need to act like airmen.”

Robinson, who isn’t a regular cadre member, but mentors and advises the team, said part of the impetus behind the new student flight is the success he and others experienced after starting a similar group at the Oregon Air National Guard’s other wing in Klamath Falls.

The goal of cadre members, says Robinson, is to make the students’ time before BMT, or the transition from BMT to formal technical schools meaningful, which will relieve some of their stress when they get there. He added that he would personally like to see more of them achieve honor graduate status, and programs like the student flight will help.

“Their success is our success,” he said.

Scott’s motivation goes much deeper. She and the other cadre members hope to convey their personal passion for service and sacrifice.

“Our staff shares a passion for not only serving our country, but also for mentoring the future of our military,” Scott said.

For more information about the 142nd FW Student Flight, contact Capt. Lisa Scott at 503-335-4072.

Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Former Oregon Guardsman returns to Camp Roberts 52 years after basic training to visit with 41st Brigade soldiers

1st Lt. Troy Hakala, (left), with Bravo Company, 141 Brigade Support Battalion, and Multnomah County Sheriff Robert Skipper, talk about Skipper's basic training experience 52 years ago at Camp Roberts, Calif., during a tour of the base to watch the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, including Hakala, of Gresham, Ore., who are training there. Skipper, of Portland, Ore., visited the facility April 14. as part of the Bosslift event. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. BZ Zeller, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

For Multnomah County Sheriff Robert ‘Bob’ Skipper, visiting Roberts as part of the Oregon Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve ‘Boss Lift’ event on April 14 turned out to be a stroll down memory lane.

Skipper, who still has his original National Guard issue stuffed into a duffel bag in the attic of his Gresham home, was at Camp Roberts, in central California once before, under very different circumstances—the year was 1957, and he was going through basic training.

“It was quite an experience,” Skipper said. “To be honest, I could have spent a couple days down there and been interested the entire time.”

Skipper was part of the event sponsored by the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The Boss Lift allows civilian employers of National Guard soldiers to visit with their employees who are training prior to a deployment. In this case, Skipper and a group of other employers were flown to Paso Robles, Calif., and then escorted to Camp Roberts, located just south of San Francisco.
The guests toured several training locations and visited their respective employees, who are deploying to Iraq for a year.

Skipper spent the afternoon with 1st Lt. Troy Hakala, one of his deputy sheriffs. Hakala, also from Gresham, Ore., is assigned to Bravo Company, 141st Brigade Support Battalion.
Skipper said he liked the current clothing issue, equipment and training for soldiers at Camp Roberts.

“I was really impressed about the gear they are getting now,” Skipper said. “I was honestly concerned about the cold weather, but the gear they’re getting for Iraq really impressed me. Even the bandages that they have now are fantastic and the medical training they do is top notch. Basically, they are making paramedics out of every officer.”

Skipper enlisted two days before his 18th birthday in March, 1957. Following his graduation from Sandy High School, Skipper was stationed at Camp Roberts and Fort Ord in California, and in Yakima, Wash.

Skipper said when he attended high school, his classmates all knew they were going to join the military.

“A bunch of guys went in the Navy, but I wasn’t ready for that,” he said. “There was a competition between Estacada High School and Sandy to see which school could enlist the most students and it was about a tossup. I stayed in about six and a half years or so.”

Skipper said he ended his service in the National Guard after the start of his law enforcement career and the birth of his daughter.

“I was gone for three weeks during a summer when my little girl was only a one-year old,” Skipper said. “She was used to me playing with her every night and when I came back home, she looked at me like, ‘who are you’?”

Starting as a deputy in 1960, Skipper said he worked up through the ranks including positions with narcotics and as a detective. He was first appointed sheriff in 1989 and then elected later that year. Skipper retired in 1994, but after more than 13 years away from office, agreed to be the standby sheriff in 2008. In November, 2008, he ran for re-election and was voted back to the helm.

Skipper said he has not made a decision regarding his future, following the conclusion of his term next November.“I’m 70, so you have to decide to keep going or step aside for somebody younger,” Skipper said.
Story by Spc. BZ Zeller, 115 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Monday, April 20, 2009

Former Oregon Air National Guard commander shares Holocaust experiences at 142 Fighter Wing diversity event

Retired Oregon Air National Guard Brigadier General Fred M. Rosenbaum, speaks to airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., on April 18, 2009. Rosenbaum’s presentation on his personal experiences during the Holocaust was the focus of the wing’s Diversity Council observances for Holocaust Remembrance Month. Photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office.

A prominent Portland businessman, philanthropist, and former commander of the Oregon Air National Guard spoke about his personal experiences during the Holocaust years at an event at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Ore., on April 18, 2009.

Retired Brigadier General Fred M. Rosenbaum, a Jewish-American who served almost 40 years in the Oregon Air National Guard, talked to airmen about his experiences during the event sponsored by the 142nd Fighter Wing’s Diversity Council as part of their Holocaust Remembrance observances.

About 80 airmen attended the presentation during the unit’s monthly training assembly to hear Rosenbaum, who was born in Austria more than a decade before the start of WWII, discuss how the advent of the war affected his life.

“German soldiers marched past my father’s business, and the skies were filled with German planes,” Rosenbaum said of the Nazi invasion of Austria in the latter part of 1938. “The entire country changed in the span of 24 hours,” he said.

“Imagine waking up one day and people are trying to kill you,” he added.

After facing months of persecution and rising threats of violence, Rosenbaum said one day he and other Jewish students were herded into their school basement by Hitler Youth members who beat them with riding crops and belts. Rosenbaum climbed out a window and ran straight home.

“That was the last time I ever saw that school,” he said.

Within days, then 12-year old Rosenbaum was on a train headed to London, England. His immediate family would join him 18 months later. The family eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest, where they settled in Portland, Oregon after Rosenbaum was admitted to Reed College.

During the presentation, Rosenbaum showed the audience his German passport, which was stamped with a large red “J”. The letter designated him as a Jew, he added.

“Whenever life gets me down, I pull out this passport and look at it,” he said. “Then I think, ‘life ain’t that bad,’” Rosenbaum added.

Rosenbaum joined the Army in 1944, where he hoped to be sent to Europe so he could fight the Nazis, but instead served as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific Theater. After leaving the Army in 1948, he joined the Oregon Air National Guard.

He received his commission in 1953, and worked his way through several leadership positions in the Oregon Air National Guard before finally being named as the Assistant Adjutant General in 1980. He retired from the military in 1986.

“I never knew that I would achieve what I did in the United States,” Rosenbaum said. “The military certainly had a large part of that.”

Rosenbaum said while he had personally faced adversity and challenges, other family members had not been so lucky. On a business trip to his native Austria in 1999, he inquired through a friend as to the fate of his grandparents.

He eventually learned they had been detained and sent to Minsk, Poland, where they were executed on the way to a Nazi concentration camp in November, 1941.

“To have this life in the United States on one hand, and the life and death in Vienna on the other hand—to say that was night and day doesn’t even come close,” Rosenbaum said.

“The greatest blessing,” he continued, “is to come to this country and take advantage of citizenship and the opportunity to help others.”

Rosenbaum is known for his many civic contributions including the creation of an annual at-risk youth camp which bears his name, Camp Rosenbaum. Celebrating its 39th year, the nationally-recognized camp is a model for other states’ efforts for early-intervention youth programs.

Additionally, Rosenbaum was responsible for establishing one of the nation’s first permanent downtown housing for low-income families, and the nation’s first suburban low-income housing project. He continues to be active in public housing issues, lobbying on behalf of tenants and housing authority boards. He served on the Housing Authority of Portland Commission for 17 years, 15 of them as chairman.

He also served as the chairman of the Portland Metropolitan Human Relations Commission, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry board chairman, and member of the Reed College Board of Trustees—his alma mater, which also voted him as “Trustee Emeritus” in 1996.

Rosenbaum is the recipient of the Humanitarian Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Military and Humanitarian contributions in support of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Keeping the Dream Alive”, the Wally Z. Schneider Memorial Humanitarian Award, and the Russel A. Peyton Human Relations Award for his contributions to the entire Portland community.

In 2006, the government of Austria bestowed its highest civilian honor on Rosenbaum, with the Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for his service to the republic of Austria.

He continues to remain active in local business and civic issues. He is currently the senior partner of Rosenbaum Financial, and continues to oversee planning and execution for Camp Rosenbaum, which he founded in 1972.

Story by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New program focuses on Oregon's military kids

The Oregon National Guard is launching a new program to help Oregon children of servicemembers deal with their parents’ deployments.

The program, called Homefront Heroes in Oregon (H2O), will bring military kids together to socialize and have fun. The first event is scheduled for Saturday May 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at North Salem High School.

Military kids of all ages and their parents are welcome. Activities will include a rock climbing wall, video games, storytelling, fire demos, arts and crafts, archery, sports games and military and emergency vehicle displays.

Online registration for the event is required, starting April 24. Deadline for registration is midnight, May 14. Follow this LINK to register.

The program is the brainchild of Laura Conley, spouse of Oregon National Guard Command Sergeant Major, Brunk Conley. Mrs. Conley said while her family for the most part coped well with her husband’s deployment, her middle son struggled with the absence of his father. (To read a profile on Oregon National Guard Command Sergeant Major Brunk Conley, go here).

“My middle son was more on his own to deal with the absence of his dad,” she said. “Of course we talked and worked through the issues, but as a teenager going through many changes, and not always wanting to confide in his mother, he had a rough go of it.”

Conley said her middle son is now in college and doing well, but the experience has made her want to help others who face similar situations.

“They don’t wear a sign that says, ‘my dad is in Iraq’ or ‘my mom is in Afghanistan,’” she said. “We want to get these children together and let them see and talk to others of their age who are experiencing the same issues.”

With nearly 3,000 Oregon National Guard soldiers set to deploy to Iraq, there will be more kids with deployed parents than at any time since WWII.

The Homefront Heroes event at North Salem High School in May will be the first of many events planned around the state helping military kids connect with one another.

Several organizations have joined together to make Homefront Heroes possible including Boy Scouts of America, Salem Police and Fire Departments, Salem Public Library, Salem Public Schools, North Salem High School Army JROTC, Oregon State Police, American Red Cross, and the Association of the United States Army.

For directions and a map to the school, go here.

Story by Kim L. Lippert,
Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eastern Oregon military training center receives new firearm training system

Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Brigade, 116th Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Gowen Field, Idaho, practice marksmanship and team building on the new Engagement Skills Trainer at the Biak training facility, near Redmond, Ore., April 4.

REDMOND, Ore. -- Oregon Army National Guard soldiers and civilian law enforcement agencies received a new system to help with firearms training at the Biak training facility, near Redmond, Ore., in March, 2009.

The Engagement Skills Trainer, or EST system, was installed at Biak to help train soldiers preparing for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and civilian law enforcement agencies. The system is similar to the firearms training simulator, or FATS system, that previously occupied the building, but it uses real weapons to fire a laser beam at a screen projecting the image of a specified terrain and enemy forces, and uses pneumatic cylinders to give the weapon recoil.

“One nice thing about this system is the recoil is very similar to the actual weapons,” said Spc. Megan Bowman, a range control technician with 821 Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. “This is a more cost-effective way to teach marksmanship and doesn’t require the ammo or range time.”

The EST system is capable of handling almost every weapon in the military inventory, including M-4 carbines, M-16 rifles, M-249 squad automatic weapons, M-240B machine guns, AT-4 anti-tank rockets, shotguns, .50 caliber machine guns and M-9 handguns.

“The EST is more realistic [than the old FATS system] because it uses more advanced graphics to display the terrain and enemy targets,” Bowman said. “This system does not look like a video game, where the old one did.”

Up to 10 individuals can use the system that cost about $1.1 million. The old system was replaced due to frequent problems, and because the new system is easier for technicians and trainees to use.

The EST System has the option of a simulating desert terrain, multiple urban-growth terrains or multiple wooded terrains to engage five to fifty enemy forces. The system can also program weapon problems, like a round becoming stuck in the weapon or a dud-round.

Other agencies using the EST system include Oregon Army National Guard units and local and state police agencies. Future recruiting events in Eastern Oregon will utilize the EST.

Story and photo by Spc. Kirby Rider,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Friday, April 10, 2009

'National Guard' Oregon license plates a great way to show support

Are you proud of your membership in the Oregon National Guard? Do you want to let the world know that you are a member of a military organization with a proud heritage?

Look no further than the front and rear bumpers of your car.

The 2007 Oregon Legislature approved the new National Guard license plates which feature the capitol letters N and G on the left side of the plate.

Plates are available for veterans. They can be personalized with a choice of any of five military service branch seals, or, they can chose between several service-related or campaign medals the veteran has earned while serving in various theaters of combat. But you have to chose one... you can't have a service branch seal and a medal together on the same plate.

The military service medals available are: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross, and the Navy Cross.

The choice of campaign medals include: World War II Victory, Korea, Vietnam, Southwest Asia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terrorism (Expeditionary).

A plate for Gold Star family members--those who have lost a family member who was serving in the military--is also available. Family members must certify that they are a surviving parent, spouse or dependent of a person who was killed in action during an armed conflict while serving the Armed Forces of the United States.

To apply for the new National Guard license plate, go to any Oregon Division of Motor Vehicles office with proof of your military service (DD Form 214 or 215) and/or documentation indicating the award of a related military medal.

For more details on how to show off your membership in the Oregon National Guard on your ride, visit this website.

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

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oregon National Guard takes part in Read Across America Program

Oregon National Guard Capt. Bobby Baca reads a Dr. Seuss book to first-grade students at Yoshikai Elementary School in Salem, Ore., in early March. Five other Oregon National Guard soldiers also took part in the Read Across America program at the school. Photo and story by Kimberly L. Lippert, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office.

For students in Haley Meadows first grade class at Yoshikai Elementary School in Salem, Ore., story time was a bit different March 2. That's because the featured reader was not their teacher, but an Oregon National Guard soldier; Capt. Bobby Baca.

"It's great to be here," said Baca. "Just seeing the kids and letting them know we are here to help the community."

Baca read a Dr. Seuss book to 21 students as part of the Read Across America program.

The program, sponsored by the National Education Association, is meant to increase awareness and motivation for reading for children in communities across America.

The visit to the school coincided with the birthday of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, bestselling children's author and creator of such well-known characters as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. According to the NEA website, the event brings together people from all walks of life to read to children in communities across the country.

"I think its motivation for kids and such a special day for them to have all of these different people reading to them," Haley Meadows said.

The students laughed as Baca read the rhymes from Dr. Seuss. Afterward, they listened intently as Baca told them about the value of reading.

"There is not a career you are heading to that you don't have to read," he told the children. "Reading is very important."

Five other soldiers from the Oregon National Guard took part in the Read Across America event at the school that day.

This story can also be viewed in the latest edition of the Oregon Sentinel on DVIDS, here.

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oregon Senator seeks 'soft landing' for veterans returning from active duty: Tell us what you think

Photo courtesy

As reported on on April 7, 2009, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is pushing for increased federal support for Oregonians returning from deployments. What follows is reporter Rob Manning's story which ran on OPB's website.

In the face of extremely high unemployment numbers for returning Oregon veterans, Senator Ron Wyden pressed his case for better federal support at a round table Tuesday. Rob Manning reports on what Wyden calls “the soft landing.”

One of Oregon’s returning military units suffered a 65-percent unemployment rate among its younger members, according to one veterans’ spokesman. Military and other officials at a round table said existing veteran support programs are complicated and not always offered at the right time.

Senator Ron Wyden says that with Oregon’s high level of participation, elected officials should improve the way soldiers return to civilian life.

Ron Wyden: “What the government needs to do in return, is getting it right in terms of the transition - I call it the period from holding a rifle to holding a child, and getting back into the work force.”

Wyden's "soft landing" program would pay Guard members for 90, rather than 30 days, when they return from active duty - though not all of that would be at full pay. The Oregon legislature is also considering bills aimed at employing soldiers and helping their families.

Please tell us what you think about Senator Wyden's proposal. If you are an Oregon soldier, or a military spouse, tell us how this extended pay period will help you and your family.

Feel free to share your thoughts via comments or feedback. You may also visit our Facebook page here to see further discussion on this topic.

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

Oregon Guard video highlights 41 Special Troops Battalion training

The 41 Special Troops Battalion is a unique organization comprised of Medics, Infantry, Security Forces, Combat Engineers, Military Intelligence, and a Communications company.

This video was filmed on location at, Silver Creek Falls, OR, Gowen Field, ID, and, Ft. Huachucca, AZ.You can download the desktop of the Shadow UAV, and other Oregon Guard desktops here.

For information on joining the 41STB, go here.

Eagles migrate to Idaho pending Kingsley Field runway reconstruction project

Above: An F-15 Eagle from the 173rd Fighter Wing takes off from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. The runway at Kingsley Field is undergoing major reconstruction, prompting the move of the wing’s flight operations to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. The project is scheduled to be completed in November 2009.

For the first time in many years, there will be no aircraft flying in or out of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.

The total removal and reconstruction of the old runway has forced the 173rd Fighter Wing to move its flight operations to the 124th Wing at Gowen Field, Idaho during the last week of April.

According to Derek Martin, Klamath Falls Airport Director, the contractor began work on April 1.

In the second week of March, the project was running on schedule and is currently waiting on the Federal Aviation Administration to release the necessary funds to begin actual construction. Martin estimates the project will be completed this October.

“We’re deploying all of our jets and about 225 people during the last week in April,” said Maj. Gregory “Snap” Johnson, 173rd Operations Support Officer and deployment project officer for Sentry Displacement.

Johnson said there were a variety of reasons for choosing Gowen Field, located near Boise, including cost and the ability to accommodate the 22 Kingsley Field F-15 Eagle aircraft.

“We selected the location based upon three criteria: mission, money and people,” said Johnson. “Ultimately, Boise was the best at satisfying all three.”

“Without the support from the 124th Wing we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission,” said Col. Jim Miller, 173rd Fighter Wing Commander. “We are grateful to them for accepting us. The guard is a wonderful network of support in times like this and during state or national emergencies.”

The logistics involved in relocating the unit make it a highly unusual deployment.

“The number one challenge is simply the magnitude of it all. We never deploy this many for this long, to accomplish our primary mission,” Johnson said.

That mission is to train the best air-to-air combat pilots to fly one of the most sophisticated air defense aircraft in the world.

“What many don’t realize is that for all of that metal in the air, there is an entire support structure that enables it; maintenance equipment, computers, vehicles, emergency landing cables, runway sweepers-all-in-all nearly 50 trucks worth of equipment, not to mention all the people, have to be transported to Gowen Field,” he added.

During the deployment most non-flying support functions, such as the military personnel flight and the finance office, will continue to operate normally. The Idaho deployment is planned to run through the end of November 2009, but Johnson says he expects to finish the deployment before then.

“Thankfully there are a lot of people here with years of expertise in their primary duties as well as in peripheral areas,” said Johnson. “Their job skills and knowledge are directly responsible for getting this accomplished, for taking processes that normally take six months to a year, and truncating them to two or three months.”

The 173rd Fighter Wing is the Oregon Air National Guard's second fighter wing in the state, and is one of two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle pilot training schoolhouses in the nation.

Kingsley Field is located in the town of Klamath Falls. The town in located in southern Oregon and is home to just over 21,000 people.

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Local company makes contribution to Oregon Guard Emergency Relief Fund

Above: Mr. Scott Kranz, Senior Program Manager with AMEC, (left), presents a check for $10,000 to Oregon Army National Guard Col. (retired) Don Bond, Joint Chief of Staff-Army, on behalf of the Emergency Relief Fund, April 7, at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Salem, Ore.

The Oregon Guard worked with AMEC on such high-profile environmental remediation projects such as Camp Rilea in Warrenton, and Camp Withycombe in Clackamas.

The Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund is a non-profit group which assists families of soldiers and airmen who face tough economic challenges.

Post and photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Public Affairs Office

Oregon airman utilizes skills as procurement sergeant to help complete mission in Jamaica

Above: Master Sgt. Preston Golleher, 142 Civil Engineer Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, and Canadian Warrant Officer Brian Stark of the 14 Wing, Waterfront, Nova Scotia review lumber for sale at a local hardware store in Kingston, Jamaica, during the multi-national engineering exercise “Tropical Hammer.” Sgt. Golleher and WO Stark are procurement officers for their respective units.

According to an airman with the Oregon Air National Guard’s civil engineer unit, procurement is an art as much as it is a skill.

Senior Master Sgt. Preston Golleher, who is with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142 Civil Engineer Squadron, demonstrated both his art and his skill during the unit’s recent deployment to Jamaica, March 21 – April 4, during a four-country joint military exercise in Jamaica known as Tropical Hammer.

His mission was to locate, and either rent or price an airless paint gun so his troops could spray primer on interior walls of a structure they were helping to build.

Golleher’s unit was joined by Canadian military members from the 8-Wing, Trenton, Ontario; engineers from the 558th Special Engineering Squadron, Nottingham, U.K.; and local Jamaican Defense Force members.

Over two weeks, the multi-national force spent two weeks modifying metal shipping containers known as Conex boxes into classrooms for a trade school and a counter-terrorism school.

“If somebody doesn’t have something, it falls on me to get it,” said Golleher, who is normally a heavy equipment operator for the 142 CES. On this deployment, however, Golleher was the supply sergeant—responsible for ensuring the unit had the tools and supplies they needed to complete the mission.

His tool bag—the things he uses to accomplish his mission—includes less traditional engineering materiel.

Instead of a hammer, or Sawz-all, or even a nail gun, his most cherished resource on this deployment was his government credit card, a local driver named Byron Skirlew, and “tenacity, savvy, and a bit of a silver tongue”.

“A lot of this job is political,” he said. “Sometimes you have to schmooze to get what you want.”

Saturdays in Jamaica begin late in the day, so according to Golleher it is important to get started early to avoid traffic.

“Sometimes I think they are trying to kill us,” joked Golleher, referring to other drivers as he negotiated the streets of Kingston and surrounding area. “But Byron gets us there in one piece,” he added.

Stressing the importance of utilizing locals not only as a way of getting around, but also as linguistic and cultural translators, Golleher openly admired his driver’s ability to help the process.

“Byron has been gold,” he said, beaming.

Golleher, a 31-year member of the Oregon Air National Guard, cited an example of how they sometimes learn the hard way.

“A vendor delivered us something that didn’t work,” he said. “I joked with him, ‘hey, why you give us that junk, give us something that works.’ He took offense and said he wasn’t going to work with us again. I caught some yelling for that one.”

Accompanied by Warrant Officer Brian Stark, company Quarter Master for the Canadian engineers, Golleher headed into town to locate a paint sprayer. He gave Byron free reign to get them to their destination, starting with the local paint shop.

“One of the real hard parts of this job is getting the locals to understand what you are looking for,” he said. “We had to Google ‘self tapping nails’ before they understood what we wanted,” he said, laughing.

To overcome issues regarding “translation” (locals in Jamaica speak English, but with a thick accent), Golleher carried a color picture of the item he was trying to locate, and readily showed the photo instead of trying to explain what he wanted.

The group drove through neighborhoods as varied as first world to third world—from corner vendors selling raw fish to McDonald’s restaurants and multi-plex cinemas. Byron navigated the roads, highways, back streets, and alleyways expertly, narrowly avoiding accident after accident as if it were routine. At one point, the vehicle was assaulted physically by a street vendor who was unhappy at the lack of sale.

“I do not like it when they touch the car,” said Byron, who took obvious pride in the service he was providing.

All told, they visited five different hardware and paint stores, spread over three towns—Kingston, St. Catherine, and finally, St. Andrew—before finding their prize at a hardware supply shop during a proverbial “one last try.” Delta Supply Co. Ltd., was closed for business, but with a little haggling, they were able to get inside.
After showing Winston Hamilton, the store’s service representative, the picture Golleher carried, several phone calls were made, and the proper equipment was located for rent at a competitor’s store. While it was too late to pick up the item, they learned of the biggest limiting factor; too high of a price.

“You always have to have a plan-B,” Golleher said.

The trio ended up with paint brushes, suits, and thinner from Up Park Camp, a military camp site.

“The guys are going to have to do it by hand,” he added.

In retrospect, Golleher said even though they did not find the exact resource, they made some important connections in the local community.

“We found a hardware store that was practically one-stop-shopping,” he said. “That will save us a lot of time. And Warrant Officer Stark got Mr. Hamilton’s name, who can assist him even after we (142 CES) are gone.”

Golleher, who said the Jamaica trip is likely to be his last deployment, describes his responsibilities as more than just getting the tools and supplies to do a job—it’s about building relationships and networking so things are easier for the next guy.

“Its politics, its international relations, and communication,” Golleher added.

Story and photo by Master Sgt. Jon Dyer, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

Monday, April 6, 2009

What being a member of the Oregon Army National Guard means to me

Above: Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Donald Snyder negotiates an obstacle course during the Oregon National Guard’s 2009 Soldier of the Year/NCO of the Year competition, Feb. 27-March 1, at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Ore. Snyder, of Tri-Cities, Wash., won the title of the Oregon National Guard’s 2009 Soldier of the Year. He is a medic with Detachment 1, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry. Photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

Spc. Donald Snyder was named soldier of the year at the 2009 Oregon National Guard Soldier/NCO of the Year competition in late February/early March at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore.

In addition to a grueling schedule of soldiering skill competition, the nearly week-long competition included a required essay on what it means to be a member of the Oregon Army National Guard. Here is Spc. Snyder's award-winning essay, in its entirety.

I never wanted to be in the Army. I never, ever wanted to go to war.

But when I needed money to get back to college and couldn’t afford it, the NG offered to help. So first, being a member of the ORANG meant an opportunity to develop as a person, but it was only a means to an end.

On October 26, 2007, I left my home in Richland, Wash., to begin Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Ga. Starting that day, my membership in this historic brotherhood began to take on a new meaning. By the time I graduated, as Soldier of the Cycle, I had learned the true value of the military, especially the National Guard.

At the risk of sounding trite, I will honestly say that the Oregon Army National Guard is my personal vehicle to realizing all my dreams by developing each of the Army Values in my own life.

Loyalty had never occurred to me until my entire platoon in BCT went to “the gravel pit” in support of Pfc. Brian Plant, who confessed to an infraction we all committed, and was being “smoked.” After an hour we quit for dinner chow and when the Drill Sergeant too Plante back to the pit afterwards we all followed . . . reluctantly and one by one. That day, a group of recruits had become a team.

At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, duty as a medic became a reality as I attempted to save the life of a wounded mannequin while Capt. Riley relayed in detail the true story of a single mother in Iraq who died of the injuries I was “treating,” while the medics made the same mistake I was making. This wasn’t a way to college anymore – I had a job to do, and people WILL die if I fail.

Respect has never come easy to me, but when the soldier on either side of you demonstrates his devotion to accomplishing the mission and being proficient to the best of his abilities, that is hard not to respect. And when that soldier takes twenty minutes to make a decision that could kill him, when he volunteers to deploy, to make a difference, there’s nothing more to say about respect.

Selfless Service is an easy one. The National Guard brought me to a place where it is too difficult to say “no.” Selfless service is the inevitable product of the other Army Values – easier to accomplish, but unilaterally imperative.

Honor, I believe, is giving respect to a person, group or organization which is due. Conforming to and upholding standards of excellence. To be in this room, writing this essay, is the result of not wanting to embarrass my unit. Professionalism, pride in your National Guard membership, and a desire to improve both the current state and the legacy of your unit are honors, which all soldiers are called on to demonstrate.

Integrity is the backbone of all the Army Values, the counterpoint of a successful life, an opportunity to prove yourself and the best opportunity to grow. The National Guard is a keystone to my integrity.

At any moment of weakness, where I fail to demonstrate integrity, it is a reflection on my soldier-friends, my unit, the ORANG and the Army. Knowing every moment that I am a soldier – a guardian of freedom and the American way of life – is an incentive for integrity.

One definition of integrity is an “overall cohesive strength.” So it is not a matter of being honest or dishonest. Integrity is building an entire existence on principles which make us good soldiers and excellent citizens.

The Oregon Army National Guard has made personal courage a matter of fact. There comes a point where a task is no longer intimidating, it is only a task. There comes a point where you can speak at any time or place in any company. Personal courage might have entered my mind as I felt, honestly calm and confident, just before I walked into a board with three command sergeants major.

But it did not occur to me until just now that volunteering to deploy could demonstrate that value. At the time, I only thought that if my good friend deployed, I was damned sure going to be the one watching his back. The National Guard took the courage out of it. They gave me Loyalty, Duty and Respect -- all of which prompted me.

Two years ago, I was a bit of a punk. A year ago, I thought I knew – and now I know I am only beginning to discover where I can go in my life. I am understanding the effects I can have on others and how contagious success is – as I see it in the NG. I am eager to fully comprehend how a system of values designed to benefit everyone around me will make this old skeptic realize his own potential.

The Oregon Army National Guard is a vehicle to greatness as a team and as an individual.
To see the original March 10th post on the 2009 Oregon National Guard Soldier/NCO of the Year competition, go here.

To read the article as it appeared in the Oregon Sentinel, go here. Click on the April 2009 issue.
Posted on April 6, 2009.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

National Guard, Oregon's Guardmembers face an historic future

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees,
The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard

We are in an historic time not only for the Oregon National Guard but the National Guard in its entirety.

While the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team is conducting pre-mobilization training for its upcoming Iraq deployment, we have more than 350 Oregon National Guard members deployed across the world in support of global military operations.

The National Guard itself now has the first four-star chief, Gen. Craig R. McKinley, as well a newly appointed Director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III. A new Director of the Army National Guard will soon be announced.

Historic changes have already begun. We have received federal stimulus dollars from the National Guard Bureau in order to fund state projects. Additional projects were made possible through legislation granting approximately $4.5 million in state stimulus funds that will assist in updating our armories and alleviate maintenance backlogs at facilities throughout the state.

These projects not only help set the Guard up for the future but also help sustain and create new jobs within our communities. These projects also include elements helping to reduce overall energy consumption into the future.

The 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field is preparing to temporarily move its flying operations hundreds of miles away while construction crews refurbish the Klamath Falls Airport runway. A federal stimulus package of $4 million will totally renovate the emergency barrier arrest system. This refurbishment will allow Kingsley Field to train the world’s best fighter pilots for decades to come.

We continue to pursue the stationing of F-22s to protect what is called the “Five Corners” of the United States. F-22 Raptors would be at five bases in the following states: Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, California, and here in Oregon. I believe fielding the best airframe for our Air Sovereignty Mission is absolutely the best way for the Oregon National Guard to continue in its successful protection of our nation.

The Oregon Military Department has received national recognition in our environmental branch for the second year in a row. The Army National Guard Environmental Security Award was presented by Mr. Addison D. Davis IV, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, in March.

The Oregon Military Department continues to demonstrate good stewardship with what we are provided. I am proud of what our environmental branch has been able to achieve and expect continued success.

Finally, April is Earthquake Tsunami Preparedness Month. The Office of Emergency Management continues to work alongside other civilian and government agencies to ensure the Oregon Military Department is prepared in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. Oregon sustained damage from two moderate earthquake events in 1993 and a distant tsunami from Alaska in 1964. There will be several events throughout the state to include training to better prepare communities in the event of an actual disaster.

This is truly an amazing time in our history. As we prepare to send an additional 2,600 soldiers on deployment, I want to assure Oregonians that the Oregon Military Department and the Oregon National Guard will continue to serve the people of Oregon and the United States here at home.

There is no better time for us to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of our Guard. Regardless of difficulty we must accomplish both state and federal missions simultaneously.

We are and will be: Always Ready! Always There!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oregon Guard shoots for the moon on April 1; literally

Oregon officials said today that funds from the Obama Administration's stimulus check, expected within a week, will be used by the Oregon National Guard to launch a state-sponsored space program.

"We're getting tired of waiting around for NASA to put our soldiers and airmen on the moon," said one Oregon Guard official who requested anonymity. "Inspired by the Oregon spirit of 'going west', we're now 'going up!'"

Indeed, Oregonians have always been known for their ‘maverick’ ideas. Exactly one year ago, on April 1, 2008, the Oregon National Guard tried its hand at raising alpacas on abandoned BLM land in Eastern Oregon. Their plan was to use the alpaca wool to make uniforms for their soldiers and airmen, thereby saving the federal government some money.

“That didn’t go over so well,” said the official, who implored this reporter to keep his name secret. “The alpaca wool uniforms made us look like a bunch of Sasquatch running around in the woods.”

The plan, according to officials, is to establish the first-ever armory on the moon. Experience gained by soldiers in austere environments will prove valuable in the bleak lunar surface, say scientists from the University of Oregon’s Astrology Department.

“Sure, this is great and all, but what I don’t get is why they have to go all the way to the moon to work in these stark environments that mimic the lunar surface.” said Dr. Bo Guss of the UofO research laboratory in Eugene, Ore. “Why don’t they just go train in Nebraska or something?”

In any case, Oregon Guardsmen have quite a task ahead of them. While soldiers spend months training with hundreds of pounds of gear, nothing quite prepares them for zero-gravity operations.

“I’m curious how we’re going to tackle eating MREs”, said one soldier, who also requested anonymity. “Don’t astronauts have all their food and Tang in those squeeze packets?”

Nutritious breakfast drinks aside, the Oregon National Guard is committed to staking a claim on our nearest celestial neighbor, say officials.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to plant an Oregon flag right next to the United States flag already on the moon?” questions one commander.

Cool indeed.

Happy April Fool's Day to all of Oregon's citizen-soldiers, citizen-airmen, their families and supporters, throughout the state, country and the world.