Friday, June 12, 2009

New facility at Withycombe a tribute to 41st Division past, present and future

I had the pleasure in May to stand alongside heroes from World War II’s famed 41st Infantry Division during the ground breaking ceremony for a new facility named in their honor. (see May 30 blog post here)

Standing with us were members of today’s Oregon National Guard who will serve in the new Armed Forces Reserve Center. These men and women represent our past and our future. This $75 million project will cover 35 acres and dramatically change the face of Camp Withycombe.

It will be home to approximately 1,300 members of the Oregon National Guard and US Army Reserve. More than 140 full time soldiers will also perform their daily work in this complex.

Our success with this project typifies the professionalism of the Oregon Guard. The 2005 BRAC left us with the good news that a modern facility was authorized but the bad news that the project was funded at only 35 percent.

Col. Rock Chilton, our Chief of Installations, used his many years of experience and the energy and enthusiasm of his staff to pursue at every level the 65 percent needed to give our soldiers the outcome they deserve. The result is that we truly will have a 21st-Century center for 21st Century soldiers.

To cap this great experience, one week later I traveled to Fort Stewart, Ga., to visit with the heirs of the 41st Infantry Division. Today’s Jungleers of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team are doing a magnificent job in their pre-mobilization training. Officer and NCO leadership have never been better. They are well on their way to make history during their deployment to Iraq.

The brigade headquarters and the Special Troops Battalion will call the new AFRC their home.
The scope of this project is mammoth--it will take nearly two years to complete.

Additional elements that will reside there are the 82 Brigade headquarters, 82 ROC, 234 Army band, 3670 Maintenance Company. We will close the Tigard, Lake Oswego and Jackson Band Armories and convert the Clackamas Armory to the Oregon Military Museum.

This project could not have come at a better time to provide jobs in a bad economy, affirm our support for deploying soldiers, and replace aged and inadequate facilities. Our profound thanks must go to our legislators and our congressional delegation for making this possible.

Let me close by making my annual appeal for each and everyone of you to recognize that with the fun and excitement of the 100 days of summer comes increased risk and concern for safety.

You are professionals. Whether you are deploying, training, or enjoying a well deserved recreational event you must understand the inherent risk involved. Use you safety training to make appropriate risk assessments and assure that you, your fellow soldiers and airmen and you families all have a safe, happy and fulfilling summer.

Raymond F. Rees, Major General,
The Adjutant General,
Oregon National Guard

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