Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday season a time for vigilance, safety and reflection

The holiday season is approaching and as we enter the winter months I want to remind everyone to stay vigilant in your own domestic preparedness. Our Oregon National Guard will continue to be there in the event of a major disaster as we have in the past.

In the event of a major incident this season, nearly every one of our local armories has back up generator power. This will further enhance our capabilities to assist our communities.

However, what I encourage you to focus on are smaller incidents at home such as short-term loss of electricity, water or heat. Be prepared. Have extra water, lighting and alternate heat sources should services be temporarily interrupted.

Our domestic preparedness response in Oregon will be that much more effective when our soldiers, airmen and retirees are already prepared at home. Knowing your family is safe and secure at home should you get called on to help your community, will allow you to concentrate on the mission at hand and know your family is safe.

This month we send off the 162nd Engineers toward their mission in Afghanistan. I have no doubts they will not only accomplish their mission, but go above and beyond in all they do. To the men and women of one of Oregon’s oldest Guard units, established in 1848, I am proud to see you continue in your history and tradition of service and excellence.

At the ceremony we had the pleasure of having many dignitaries and community leaders and I want to thank all of them for coming to show support for our Guard members as they depart for Afghanistan.

I want to especially highlight, Abe Bergen, a soldier who deployed with the 162nd Infantry Regiment during World War II, as well as Jesse James Jones Jr., Co-Chief of the Cayuse Indians, who were both there to wish our men and women well. These individuals signify both the present and the history of the Oregon National Guard.

I need to also address and thank the Polk county and more specifically the Dallas community, where this unit is based. As we all know, our Guard members live, work, and raise their families within our communities.

I usually end my articles with our Oregon Guard motto, when we are needed, we are there. Seeing all the local community support for this event reminded me, the same is true for us. When we need you, you are there. Together, we are all what makes our state so amazing. We are Oregon.

Finally, I want to welcome the 173rd Fighter Wing, back home to Klamath Falls. The 173rd has been conducting operations in Boise, Idaho for the last seven months while the Klamath Falls runway was completely renovated.

The 173rd is postured to be the only F-15 pilot training facility in the United States. Our 173rd Oregon Guard members are the individuals responsible for training the best fighter pilots in the nation.

With the new runway repairs and upgrades, we will be able to continue quality training for years to come. Welcome home 173rd.

Although we have more than 3,400 Oregon Guard members supporting global operations, our team members here will be the ones to answer the domestic call if a disaster should strike. As we head into the winter months remember to be prepared at home.

Whether it’s through stocking up on extra supplies or sending hand sanitizer with your kids to school to prevent illness, stand-ready. When we are needed! We are there!

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

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