Friday, August 28, 2009

Oregon National Guard members participate in annual Hood to Coast Relay Race

Members of the Oregon Army National Guard’s Hood to Coast team, “Dirty Dogs & Bodacious Babes”, await the arrival of one of their team members at a checkpoint near Zigzag, Ore., on Aug. 28. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office).

Today, two teams from the Oregon National Guard took part in the annual Hood to Coast Relay Race, which started at Timberline Lodge, on Mt. Hood.

Both teams were comprised of approximately 24 citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen. The Oregon Air National Guard team is named "Blue Thunder", while the Oregon Army National Guard team is named "Dirty Dogs & Bodacious Babes".

“I do this for the camaraderie and to support my teammates,” said Oregon Air National Guard Lt. Col. Craig J. Fery.

Fery, who is the commander of the 142nd Fighter Wing’s Civil Engineering Squadron in Portland, Ore., began his leg of the race just before noon. He walked to the starting line as his fellow airmen cheered him on.

About 30 minutes earlier, Sgt. Maj. James Martichuski kicked off the day for the Oregon Army Guard team. He later said his section of the race, which also started at Timberline Lodge, and ended at Government Camp—a steep downhill distance of just over five miles—was relatively easy.

“What an awesome race, with awesome people,” Martichuski said.

Sgt. 1st Class Austin Robbins, of HHC 1249th Engineer Battalion, who was scheduled to run the fifth leg of the race, said he loves long-distance running.

“I like to get out and represent my fellow Guardsmen,” Robbins said. “I love doing this because it boosts my morale and boosts the morale of my fellow soldiers.”

Just before the Oregon Guard members started their portion of the race, they learned of the deaths of two of their fellow citizen-soldiers in Iraq. Most members shared Robbins’ idea to dedicate their race to all their fellow Guard members serving overseas, but especially to their two fallen comrades.

“Today’s news gives a major significance to what we’re doing here,” Robbins said.

He added that last year when he ran the Portland Marathon, he wrote on his shirt the names of those Oregon National Guard members who had been killed in action.

“Had I known the names of the soldiers this morning, I would have done the same thing today,” Robbins added.

About 60 Oregon Army National Guard members who are stationed in Iraq are running a similar distanced race at their bases in Iraq. Among them is the brigade chaplain, and the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander, Col. Dan Hokanson. Read all about the story by Julie Sullivan of the Oregonian, here.

Runners from the two Oregon teams are scheduled to arrive on the Oregon coast sometime tomorrow.

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

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