Friday, July 31, 2009

IED attack introduces Oregon soldiers to combat zone

Pfc. Storm Brown from Forest Grove, Ore., locates a piece of shrapnel on top of his MRAP vehicle, which was hit by an IED explosion during a convoy in Iraq. The blast blew off the mirror on his turret and caused damage to the window, but Brown suffered only minor injuries.

Soldiers from the Oregon Army National Guard's 2-218 Field Artillery's First Platoon, 2nd Squad, were reminded that Iraq is still a combat zone when they were struck by two separate improvised explosive devices recently.

The soldiers have been in Iraq for around two weeks, and were conducting their first and second mission in a seven-vehicle convoy when the blast occurred. They were enroute to meet the vehicles they were going to escort. No one was seriously injured.

Truck commander, Sgt. Erique Dominguez of Portland, Ore., and truck gunner, Pfc. Storm Brown of Forest Grove, Ore., were in a vehicle rocked by the first explosion.

The vehicles were passing a checkpoint as the gunners scanned the horizon. When the trailing vehicle slowed down, the IED went off, said Brown.

"Everything went orange, there was smoke everywhere," Brown said. "I dropped down into the vehicle and checked in with the TC to let him know I was fine. We called in, told them we were fine, and then moved out."

The soldiers were in one of the Army's newest vehicles--the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP)--designed so as to protect its occupants from serious injury.

About a half-hour after their mission began, another vehicle in the convoy was hit with a second explosion.

Brown said the platoon the Oregonians took over for hasn't been attacked the entire time they were in Iraq. He added that being hit twice on his first mission has helped him become more aware of the realities of a combat zone.

Pfc. Michael Byrd from Portland, Ore., the gunner in the vehicle, said he was scanning his sector when the explosion happened.

"I scanned with my spotlight, then came back to my one o'clock position, and whoom!" he said. "It kind of sucked me up a little bit, and then I went back down and there was nothing but dust everywhere."

The convoy commander, Staff Sgt. David Gowan from Portland, Ore., who was also the TC during the second explosion, said the attacks help him tune into potential dangers while on convoy missions. He added that the incidents will help him know what to do if the situation reoccurs.

All the soldiers in the convoy were aware of the dangers in Iraq, but the recent incident served as a wakeup call for all those involved. They said the experience will help them be more aware on future convoys.

"You know that things like this can happen, but it was totally unexpected," Byrd said. "There's a war going on here--it's still dangerous and you've got to stick to your training and know what you're trying to do."

"We are all okay," Byrd added.

Story by Spc. Cory Grogan,
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment,
41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Visual postcards from Iraq

Here's a couple of photos from our 41 IBCT soldiers in Iraq, thanks to photographer, Spc. Cory Grogan who is a member of the Oregon Army National Guard's 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team take a moment to relax after finishing up last-minute details just before heading out on a convoy mission. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs).

Spc. Jason Rosalez takes a moment to pause while checking his gunner's turret on an Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) prior to heading out on a mission in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs).

Speaking of the 41 IBCT, writer and chief blogger for The Oregonian, Mike Francis has a webpage full of updates and information about Oregon's citizen-soldiers, which he updates on a frequent basis. Go check it out here. Kudos to for hosting the page.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fun & games for a worthy cause

It was all fun and games this morning at the Family Fun Center in Wilsonville, Ore., when KPTV's Good Day Oregon featured members of the Oregon Army National Guard during their "On the go with Joe" segment.

Joe joined Oregon Army National Guard Sgts. Richard Wirfs and Dustin Clevenger, and two recruiters; Staff Sgts. Erik York and Michael Siebold, in the bumper boat pool for some fun and mayhem. Even Bullwinkle, the Fun Center's mascott, joined in the fun.

If you want to view the fun for yourself, go check it out on the KPTV website, here.

But it wasn't all just fun in the sun this morning. Local radio station KUIK (AM 1360) joined forces with the Family Fun Center for "Freedom Night", which will raise funds for the Oregon National Guard's Emergency Relief Fund.

KUIK will broadcast live from the Family Fun Center starting at 4:00 p.m. today, and ten-percent of all purchases made by those who visit the Family Fun Center between 4-10 p.m. will be donated to the Emergency Relief Fund.

Visitors can also enter to win an Xbox, a $100 Family Fun Center giftcard, or other prizes.

The Emergency Relief Fund is a program designed for Oregon National Guard soldiers and airmen, and their families who are in need of emergency financial assistance.

Donations to the fund are tax-deductible, with proceeds going directly to members of the Oregon National Guard and their families who qualify for the emergency funds.

For more information on the Emergency Relief Fund, contact Sgt. Richard Wirfs at 503-584-3989. To make a donation, see the online donation form here.
Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oregon's 41 IBCT arrives in Iraq

Soldiers from the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oregon Army National Guard, disembark from a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane in Iraq minutes after arriving in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs).

IRAQ, July 20--The first soldiers from the Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team have arrived in Iraq.
They are currently conducting force-protection and convoy security missions to support logistical movement throughout the country.
The Oregon National Guard Brigade has over 3,000 soldiers deployed to, or moving into Iraq. The majority of the soldiers are from Oregon with augmentees from Nebraska, Delaware, South Carolina, New Mexico and the Individual Ready Reserve.

Spc. Angela O'Brien looks focused as she arrives in Iraq, preparing for her mission which will last until Spring of 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs).

The brigade is scheduled to remain in Iraq until spring 2010--during the draw-down of troops and the historic elections in Janurary.
The brigade has citizen-soldiers from throughout the state of Oregon who are putting their lives on hold to help continue the mission in Iraq.

For news images, video and audio clips on the 41st IBCT, please visit:

Story and photos by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Father-son citizen-soldier teams deploy to Iraq together

Our very own Spc. Cory Grogan has been busy lately.

Check out a story he posted recently on DVIDS about father-son teams from the Oregon Army National Guard who recently deployed with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Iraq:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

U.S. Air Force four-star general meets founder of Camp Rosenbaum

During a visit to the State of Oregon, Gen. Victor E. Renuart, Commander North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command, shares a lighthearted moment with retired Assistant Adjutant General, Oregon, Brig. Gen. Fred M. Rosenbaum after they were introduced during Camp Rosenbaum, July 22. (Oregon National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, Oregon Military Dept. Public Affairs).

“Camp Rosenbaum” was aptly named after its founder, who served as Chairman of the Housing Authority of Portland, and founded the annual youth camp nearly 40 years ago.

Rosenbaum recounted how he brought his own children to the Army post in the late 60s, and how the visits were the genesis to hold an annual camp there, which would provide an enjoyable experience for less fortunate youth.

This year marks the 39th year Camp Rosenbaum has helped children from housing authorities from Oregon and southwest Washington. Volunteers from the Portland Police, Oregon National Guard and nine housing authorities throughout Oregon and Washington participate in the annual event.

The Oregonian's Mike Francis also visited the camp, and wrote a blog. You can read all about it here. He also posted a link to writer Lori Tobias' article, here.

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oregon Army National Guard soldier is taking stress to the dogs

Oregon Army National Guard Warrant Officer Alicia Fuller gets a "high-five" from her dog Khaos, who is a certified therapy dog, in front of Joint-Force Headquarters in Salem, Ore. Fuller, who works with the Recruit and Sustainment Program, will soon deploy with Khaos to National Guard Bureau to work with injured soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center.

During her deployment to Afghanistan, Oregon Army National Guard Warrant Officer Alicia Fuller said she noticed that when a dog was around everyone’s spirits lifted.

“There is something about having a dog around that seems to make everything better,” said Fuller.

That experience with therapy dogs is translating into a program which benefits Oregon’s citizen-soldiers by helping ease battlefield stress.

VetDogs, a subsidiary of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, was originally created to provide wounded military veterans with specialized service dogs to help them maintain their independence and mobility. Now these trained dogs are being sent over to Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers deal with combat stress.

“Studies show that having dogs in theater reduces stress by about 50 percent,” said Fuller.

For Fuller, it was her personal love of dogs and seeing the impact they could have on homesick or stressed-out soldiers which prompted her to investigate how she could help in that process.

After returning from Afghanistan, she researched and acquired a personal protection dog, but when her dog arrived Fuller said her personality was more of what she described as a “flower child” than a trained bodyguard.

Still, Fuller named her Khaos.

“I started pushing her toward therapy because it seemed like where her personality was going,” said Fuller.

Fuller said Khaos has an amazing ability to pick out people who need her most.

“She’s basically a stress dog,” Fuller said. “If you are under stress, she can pick people up. She’ll go up to you and give you hugs or kisses or whatever you need,” Fuller added.

Small for her breed, Khaos exudes all the attributes of puppyhood. But once Fuller fastens on the specially-designed vest, emblazoned with the words “Certified Therapy Dog” in bright white letters, Khaos is all business. She even has her own official identification badge.

Fuller began intensive training with Khaos, achieving full certification in only 14 months. As part of the 41st Brigade Combat Team, she also taught Khaos the finer points of being around Army weapons and the sounds of battle.

“I’ve had her around field artillery weapons and every kind of pistol rifle you can imagine,” said Fuller.

But her plans to take her on deployment changed in January of 2009, when brigade leadership said she would be going to work at Joint Force Headquarters in Salem instead. Fuller settled in as part of the Recruit and Sustainment Program with Khaos in tow.

Fuller is now looking toward an upcoming tour at National Guard Bureau, and hopes Khaos will be able to assist with injured soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Even though Khaos will be working as a full-time stress therapy dog, Fuller adds that her dog is not a “one-trick pony.”

“My biggest hope is to get her national certification and start cross training her as a search (and rescue) dog,” said Fuller.

Story by Kimberly L. Lippert,
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

Friday, July 17, 2009

Top Obama Backer Warns Ending F-22 Production Is 'Real Mistake' - Political News -

Top Obama Backer Warns Ending F-22 Production Is 'Real Mistake' - Political News -

Posted using ShareThis

Oregon Guard members wrap up training with Singapore Army

Above: Maj. Gen. Patrick Wilson, deputy commanding general, Army National Guard, United States Army Pacific, inspects a platoon of Singapore infantry soldiers in Singapore, July 16. Wilson visited members of Operation Tiger Balm '09.

Members of the Oregon National Guard wrap up a week of training in Singapore. The exercise, called, Operation Tiger Balm, is a coalition training exercise between the Singapore Army, and citizen soldiers and citizen airmen from Oregan, Hawaii, Utah and Arizona.

We sent photojournalist, Sgt. Eric Rutherford, to cover the event. To view more photos of the exercise, visit the DVIDS website at:

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oregon's Adjutant General warns not to "cut corners" on F-22

National Guard leadership in five coastal states who have fighter wings that play a critical role in national defense want the F-22, a recent story in Air Force says.

The July 14 article cites Oregon's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees as saying the F-22 is "absolutely imperative."

The five Air National Guard fighter wings in California, Oregon, Louisiana, Florida and Massachusetts make up the "Five Corner Initiative", which will help protect the American coastlines.

Of particular concern, the article quotes Rees, is the ominous specter of small, fast, cruise missles fired at American cities from ships off the U.S. coast.

Read the rest of the article here.
The article represents a wave of media coverage happening in the wake of renewed discussions on Captiol Hill regarding the Air Force's next generation fighter. David Axe, a contributing writer to Wired Magazine, also posted a blog about the ongoing F-22 discussions, here.
Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oregon National Guard welcomes home aviation unit with official ceremony in Salem today

Above: Members of the Oregon Army National Guard 2-641 Aviation unit pose for a group photo in Iraq in January 2009. Over the course of one year, during two separate rotations, the unit assisted with aviation requirements within the Iraq area of responsibility.

The Oregon Army National Guard will honor members of the 2-641 Aviation unit during a demobilization ceremony this afternoon.

About 20 soldiers from the unit's second rotation returned from a six-month deployment to Iraq. They join 35 other soldiers who returned from a similar deployment in August 2008.

All the unit's members will be honored during the ceremony scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, and senior leadership will attend the ceremony to help officially welcome home the unit.

The unit, commanded by Lt. Col. Christian Rees, conducted flight missions, transported equipment and personnel, and supported other units' missions during their combined one-year deployment.

The ceremony will be held at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Salem, Ore.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oregon Army National Guard's 41 IBCT begins transition from U.S. to Middle East

These photos were sent to us from Spc. Cory Grogan, an Oregon Army National Guard photographer with the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Public Affairs.

It showcases some of the brigade's transition from Fort Stewart, Ga. to Kuwait.

June 26: Capt. Eric Brenner briefs soldiers from the 41 IBCT at Fort Stewart, Ga.

June 28: Soldiers from 2/162 Infantry and 2/218 Field Artillery stand in line for an initial briefing minutes after entering camp Buehring in Kuwait.

July 5: Soldiers from the 41 IBCT confirm the accuracy of their weapons on a firing line at Camp Buehring in Kuwait.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oregon Army National Guard's 41 IBCT shares imagery, stories on DVIDS site

The Oregon Army National Guard's 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team now has a venue for sharing photos, videos and stories via the Digital Video & Imagery System, or DVIDS.

The site is located at

If you register on DVIDS you can get all the high resolution photos, video and stories straight from the website without having to request it from DVIDS. If you are not registered, it will give you an option to request them from the website owners.

You can also sign up for the RSS feed there. You will have to make a media request for the high-resolution video, however.

Another option for further information is to go through the brigade's family readiness website, which is located at:

You register there by entering the name of a soldier, and his last four of his SSN. You will have complete access to pictures, the blog, and video uploaded by the brigade.

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

Monday, July 6, 2009

One other thing...

What's the point of talking about the mobilization ceremony of the 41 IBCT without a great moblization ceremony photo?

This shot was submitted by the 41 IBCT Public Affairs team over the weekend:

(Sent to Oregon National Guard by MSG Christopher M. Elstad).

Hokanson leads Oregon soldiers to Iraq

Col. Dan Hokanson, commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, greets a role-playing sheik during a training exercise at Fort Stewart, Ga. Hokanson is a resident of Keizer, Oregon. Photo by Spc. Cory Grogan, 41 IBCT Public Affairs.

It's been a busy weekend in the press for the Oregon National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Over the weekend, Salem Statesman-Journal columnist Capi Lynn published a great profile on 41 IBCT commander, Col. Dan Hokanson.

Hokanson will lead some 3,000 members of the Oregon Army National Guard through a year-long deployment in Iraq. The group just completed their mobilization training at Fort Stewart, Ga., and conducted a mobilization ceremony over the July 4 weekend.

To read the Salem-Statesman Journal article, go here. The write-up also contains quick facts about Hokanson and the brigade he commands. To see a photo library of the brigade's training, go here.

Members of the brigade's Public Affairs team have also created a Facebook page, and their very own blog. To see a video of some of their training at Camp Roberts, Calif., visit our official YouTube page link here.

And speaking of blogs, our thanks to Mike Francis of the Oregonian for mentioning the sendoff in Georgia over the weekend in his blog, Oregon At War. Read his posts here and here.

We wish them all God speed and good luck.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oregon Governor leads Iraq send-off for Oregon soldiers

Above, from left to right: Col. Dan Hokanson, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, conduct a pass and review of the 41 IBCT as they prepare to depart for deployment to Iraq during the brigade's mobilization ceremony July 3 at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Governor Ted Kulongoski and Major General Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, honored the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team during their mobilization ceremony at Ft. Stewart, Ga., July 3.

The ceremony, held the day before Independence Day, underscored the troops' service and sacrifice as nearly 3,500 soldiers ready to deploy to Iraq for one year.

"We are citizen soldiers and everyone here represents the best of their community, their state, and this great nation," said Col. Dan Hokanson, 41 IBCT commander. "Each one has answered our nations call."

The 41 IBCT is mobilizing in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and will conduct a 400 day mobilization, including their training, which they just completed at Ft. Stewart.

Video of 41 IBCT training may be downloaded at:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oregon Air National Guard jets to do multiple flyovers throughout state for July 4 celebrations

If you're going to be out and about on July 4, make sure you look up every once in a while. Oh yeah, and don't forget your camera.

The Oregon Air National Guard will conduct several flyovers in celebration of Independence Day.

Two F-15 Eagle fighter jets from the 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland, and two F-15 Eagle fighters home-based at the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, are scheduled to fly over community events throughout Oregon, Southwest Washington and Northern California at the following times and locations on Saturday, July 4:

10:00 Klamath Falls, OR – Klamath Avenue

10:05 Tulelake, CA – Main St.

10:10 Lake of the Woods – Lake of the Woods Resort area

10:15 Ashland, OR – Main St.

10:20 Central Point, OR - Downtown

10:30 Eagle Point, OR – Main St.

10:45 Diamond Lake, OR – Diamond Lake Resort Area

11:00 Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater

11:00 Ridgefield, WA – 4th of July Parade

11:05 Camas, WA – 4th of July Parade

11:10 Rockaway Beach, OR – 4th of July Parade

11:15 Neskowin, OR – Neskowin Patriotic Celebration

11:25 Cresswell, OR – Oregon Avenue (Main St)

12:50 Beaverton, OR – Oak Hills School - Parade

1:15 Manzanita, OR – 4th of July Parade

2:00 Gold Beach, OR – 4th of July Parade at the Port

2:25 Roseburg, OR – Roseburg Hometown 4th of July

2:30 Glide, OR – Parade at Glide Middle School

All passes will be approximately 1,000 feet above ground level and 350 knots airspeed. Flights could be cancelled or times changed due to inclement weather or operational contingencies.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oregon Army National Guard co-pilot gives perspective on recent rescue on Mount Hood

This past Sunday, (June 28), a Seattle hiker was rescued after a climbing accident on Mount Hood. From his hospital bed, Kristopher Haskins praised his rescuers, including the Oregon Army National Guard aviation crew who airlifted him off the mountain.

Oregon Army National Guard co-pilot, Maj. Jerry Brennan shared with us his perspective of the rescue mission, in addition to four spectacular photos taken by Portland Mountain Rescue members on the mountain that day.

Here is a quick recap of the mission:

One lone climber with a broken femur stranded at 8,000' after taking a direct hit with a boulder. Unlike the last mission we flew on Hood, this one was quite a bit higher on the challenge meter.

This mission consisted of offloading four Portland Mountain Rescue guys above the patient at 9,000'--nice slope offload landing with one main [landing gear]. We tandem hoisted an AMR RAT Team member off a ridgeline at 5,000' to follow on with the PMR guys (AMR guys had the drugs?) Sgt. Edwards and Merrick found out what a fifty degree slope hoist operation (with tag line) is all about.

Total 4.2 hours of flying time, six hoist interations and one of the tightest LZ's [Landing Zone] at SAR Base I have ever landed in.

We were on the more remote (and technical) west side of the mountain above the Sandy Glacier at the bottom of Cathedral Rock. I particularly enjoyed the photos from PMR through the binoculars and how it gives a sense of the sheer magnitude of Mt. Hood.

When we arrived on scene, the climber was on a small ledge tucked behind a rock so as to not get taken out by another avalanche. He had been up there since 3:00 a.m. His buddy left him to climb down the mountain in order to get help. Other bit of luck (okay, a lot) for this climber was the 50th Anniversary National Search and Rescue Conference going on at Timberline Lodge that weekend, so we had plenty of folks there to help.

-- Maj. Jerry Brennan,
co-pilot, Charlie-7158 Aviation,
Oregon Army National Guard

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Air Force advises using caution for online family members of deployed military members

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Air Force found that social networking sites are being used to victimize family members of U.S. military members serving overseas.
The study, released June 27, 2009 by AFNORTH and HQ 1st Air Force, explored access to personal information on Facebook, and the rising instance of fraud being perpetrated via similar social media sites.
The study found grandparents of deployed service members who were being contacted through Facebook under the guise of being their grandson or granddaughter returning home on leave from Iraq. The "soldier" asks the family member to keep their presence secret so they can surprise the parents.
The "soldier" then says he is stranded because their buddy's car has broken down. They request several thousand dollars be wired to the buddy to cover the cost of car repairs.
The study found an alarming amount of personal data available through social networking sites like Facebook. Scammers have begun utilizing social engineering to target relatives of service members, exploiting the trusting nature and limited contact that most grandparents have with their adult grandchildren.
Military members are advised to inform all relatives to verify the identity of anyone who contacts them by asking specific questions known only to that person before wiring funds on their behalf. They should also provide family members with a codeword or phrase to verify their identity.
Service members and their families are also advised to review their profiles on Facebook or MySpace, and remove any information which can be used by Internet scammers.
Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager