Monday, November 2, 2009

Dallas, Ore. citizen-soldier fights for two nations

Oregon Patriot Guard Riders post American Flags alongside fire trucks from Dallas and Polk County Fire Departments, near the entrance to Dallas High School in Dallas, Ore., prior to the start of the mobilization ceremony for the Oregon Army National Guard's 162 Engineer Company, Oct. 31. About 100 of Oregon's citizen-soldiers will perform route clearance as part of a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric A. Rutherford, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs).

In 1848, the Oregon Militia launched a campaign against the Cayuse Indians.

Just over 160 years later, a member of the Cayuse Tribe is a citizen-soldier in the Oregon National Guard, helping rid the world of terror.

History, it seems, has come full circle.

This past weekend, Pfc. Stephen R. Printup and about a hundred of his fellow soldiers of the 162 Engineer Company, based in Dallas, Ore., took part in a mobilization ceremony at the Dallas High School Gymnasium.

Like most small-town events involving local citizen-soldiers, the turnout was huge--organizers originally planned for between 500 and 800 people--over 1,500 showed up. It was standing-room only.

The Dallas and Polk County Fire Departments strung a huge American flag between two of their ladder trucks. As the firefighters finished the task, the gray skies broke, and a rainbow emerged, framing the flag.

"Seems appropriate, doesn't it?" asked Patriot Guard Rider, and former Oregon National Guard member Dennis Burnett.

Inside the building, the soldiers stood in formation as family members, community leaders, well-wishers and the general public settled into their seats. The media jockeyed for position as distinguished guests were introduced.

In the front row, regaled in full ceremonial Native American headdress, was Printup's grandfather and Cayuse co-Chief of the Federated Tribes of Umatilla, Chief Jesse James Jones, Jr.

He said Printup is stepping forward as a warrior to represent not only the United States, but also the Cayuse Nation and the Umatilla Reservation.

"It's a great honor (for him) to represent the country as a whole and our nation," Chief Jones said.

Last month, tribal elders, which include a number of Native American veterans' groups, held a ceremony of their own at the Umatilla Reservation to honor Printup. They presented him with an eagle feather, representing his status as a warrior. They also bestowed upon him and his family gifts and blessings.

"Today he is stepping forward as a young man," Chief Jones said. "He will be going forward as a warrior."

His mother, Nabja Printup-Jones, said the entire tribe recognizes the significance of her son's service and sacrifice as a citizen-soldier.

"So few men volunteer to serve, so we recognize how special he is," Printup-Jones said.

Dressed in full Native American dress, Printup-Jones and her family fully support her son's deployment.

"All my tribal beliefs tell me he is being a warrior, and I want to give him my full support," she said.

Following the ceremony, Oregon's Governor, Theodore Kulongoski, and Oregon National Guard's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, shook hands with each soldier, as family and friends armed with cell phones and cameras captured the moment.

Oregon Governor, Theodore, R. Kulongoski (left), stands with Oregon Army National Guard Pfc. Stephen R. Printup, and Printup's grandfather, Jesse James Jones, Jr., Co-Chief of the Cayuse Tribe of the Federated Tribes of Umatilla, following the mobilization ceremony for the Oregon National Guard's 162 Engineer Company in Dallas, Ore., Oct. 31.

Printup is soon surrounded by the media, as his grandfather and mother converge for the photo opportunity.

"We're proud of our heritage and culture," Printup said. "My family is of supreme importance to me and having them here today is a great blessing."

Oregon Army National Guard Pfc. Stephen R. Printup and his family pause for a family portrait following the mobilization ceremony for the 162 Engineer Company at the Dallas High School Gymnasium, Oct. 31. From left to right: his mother Nabja Printup-Jones, girlfriend Amber Robbins, Printup, his grandfather Jesse James Jones, Jr., Co-Chief of the Cayuse Tribe, youngest sister Jeanette Jones, father Jesse Buck Jones III, and sister Merrily Jones.

Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon Military Department Social Media Manager

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