Thursday, December 10, 2009

National Guard celebrates 373 years of protecting states, citizens

Above: Director of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig McKinley, wishes the National Guard a very happy birthday!

The United States is a relatively young country, but four of the world's oldest military organizations are our country's National Guard.

The National Guard is celebrating its 373rd birthday this year. On Dec. 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony divided its citizen-soldiers, or militia, into the North, South and East Regiments.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was seven years old in 1636. About 5,000 men, women and children had made the two-month journey to the New World, leaving the relative comfort and safety of England.

For more information on the National Guard, visit

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cadets from Oregon Youth Challenge Program participated in Oregon's Civil War game

The other day, I received a few photos of OYCP cadets who participated as members of the official Color Guard, which opened the Dec. 3rd Oregon "Civil War" game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., during the playing of the National Anthem.

Participating in the Color Guard were: Cadet Gustavo Vega of Boring, Ore., 2nd Platoon; Paola Tayun of Beaverton, Ore., 3rd Platoon; Caleb Lambert of Dallas, Ore., 2nd Platoon; and Ralle Johnson of Redmond, Ore., 1st Platoon.

For those of you who don't know, the Oregon Youth Challenge Program is a nationally-recognized alternative high-school which helps turn "at-risk" youth into productive students using military-style, in-residence instruction. For many students, it is their last chance at turning their lives around.

The school is accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools and the Oregon Department of Education.

For more information on this very successful program, please visit their official website here.

Special thanks to Vanessa Ward of the OYCP for sharing these photos, and Ken Olsen for taking them!

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

Monday, December 7, 2009

Governor Appoints Oregon Airman to Klamath County Circuit Court

A member of the Oregon Air National Guard was appointed to fill the vacancy created by retiring Klamath County Circuit Court Judge Richard B. Rambo.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski appointed Lt. Col. Dan Bunch, of the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls to the position Dec. 4.

The Governor said Bunch's extensive knowledge of civil and criminal court will be an asset to Klamath County and the state.

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, said the appointment is a win for the citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen of the Oregon National Guard, but also for the people of southern Oregon.

"LTC Bunch is a great example of the citizen-soldier concept," Rees said. "He is a dedicated public servant in the Oregon National Guard. Likewise he will be a dedicated and effective member of the Circuit Court."

Bunch has a Bachelor of Arts from Hampden-Sydney College and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Virginia. He has served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Guam and Alaska, and a criminal prosecutor in Alaska. He has worked in private practice with the Klamath Falls firm of Brandsness, Brandsness, Rudd & Bunch, and has served as Klamath County Counsel since 2006.

Bunch served in the U.S. Navy from 1990 to 1994, and the U.S. Air Force from 1994 to 1998. Since 2000, he has served as Staff Judge Advocate for the Oregon Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field. In 2007, he deployed to Iraq, and was recently selected for the rank of colonel.

He is active in the Klamath County community as a board member of the Citizens for Safe Schools and an adjunct professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology. He is scheduled to be sworn into his new position as Klamath County Circuit Court Judge later this month.

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

(Photo courtesy of 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanks to soldier's employer, this Iraqi Christmas will include a little bit of Oregon

For Oregon Army National Guard Captain Chad Knowles, a fake Christmas tree just isn't going to cut it.

Especially since he and his fellow 1-82nd Cavalry A-Troop soldiers are spending most of this holiday season deployed to Iraq.

So with the help of his employer, High Impact Technology in Tigard, Ore., three fresh Christmas trees were shipped to Iraq from Oregon.

The Nobile fir, a Scotch Pine, and a Serbian Spruce--all addressed to Capt. Knowles--arrived at Camp Victory near Baghdad, on Dec. 3 via FedEx.

Kate Al-Sheikhly, office manager at High Impact got the request from Baghdad about two weeks ago.

"Chad was asking if it was possible to ship a Christmas tree for his troops," she said.

Al-Sheikhly made a few phone calls and secured three trees. The spruce and pine are balled up and wrapped in burlap. The Noble fir is a gift from Clackamas County Tree Marketing Association in Corbett.

Knowles' wife Melynda said the several fake trees already there with the members of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Iraq weren't good enough.

She said her husband told her his soldiers are from Oregon, and he wanted them to "smell the tree, to feel it, and to be as close to home as possible."

But Christmas is nothing without sharing. Knowles intends to keep one tree for his men. The second tree will go to Maj. Micah Goettl, who is also in the 1-82nd Cavalry, and also works for High Impact's sister company, Composite Materials R & D.

The third tree currently has no owner, and is up for grabs, says Russ Monk, one of the founders at High Impact.

"A little piece of Oregon goes a long way," Monk said.

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

Special thanks to Paige Parker of The Oregonian for this story. To read the entire story, go here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tonight's Civil War game a tribute to Oregon's deployed citizen-soldiers

Go Beavs! Go Ducks!

The victor of tonight's long-anticipated Oregon Civil War game will head to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Affixed to each player's helmet is a small one-inch decal of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team's "Sunset" patch. They wear the patch as a tribute to Oregon's citizen-soldiers who are deployed to Iraq for one year.

Also, twenty minutes before kickoff, two game footballs, each signed by the head coaches of both teams, will be presented to Oregon's Governor, Ted Kulongoski, and Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, on behalf of deployed Oregon National Guardsmen everywhere.

Sometime during the game, the following video will air on ESPN. It is as much a tribute to the history and prestige of the Civil War game, as it is to honor the men and women of the Oregon National Guard, who spend tonight defending freedom across the world.

Go Ducks! Go Beavs! Go 41 IBCT!

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oregon's Civil War football game to pay tribute to deployed Oregon soldiers

Above: The "Sunset" patch, representing the Oregon Army National Guard's 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, will be displayed on the helmets of both the Oregon State University "Beavers" and the University of Oregon "Ducks" for the upcoming Civil War game, Dec. 3. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University.

Support for the Oregon State University "Beavers" and the University of Oregon "Ducks" among soldiers and airmen of the Oregon National Guard runs very strong.

During tomorrow night's 113th annual "Civil War" game, both teams intend to return the favor.

As a tribute to deployed members of the Oregon Army National Guard's 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, team members of both schools will wear the brigade's "Sunset" patch on their game helmets.

Twenty minutes prior to kick-off, the atheltic directors of both schools plan to present autographed game balls to Oregon's Governor, Ted Kulongoski, and the commander of the Oregon National Guard, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General.

Opening ceremonies will also include a Color Guard from the Oregon National Guard's Oregon Youth Challenge Program.

Kickoff of the game is set for 6:00 p.m. PST (9:00 p.m. EST). The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN-HD, where available.

To see the Oregon National Guard video spot scheduled to air duing the game, visit the DVIDS website, here.

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

Aviation Mechanics Keep Army Flying Along

Ohio National Guard Staff Sgt. Erwin Gray, of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, and a Company D, 1st Battalion 137th Aviation Regiment aviation mechanic, loosens a fitting on a UH-60 Black Hawk fuel hose Monday, October 12, 2009 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

-- The Army song said "the Army goes rolling along," but aviation mechanics here with Task Force 38 kept the Army flying along for mission success.

"If it wasn't for us they [the aircraft] wouldn't be flying at all," said Oregon National Guard Sgt. Robert Malaguti, Coos Bay, Ore., an avionics mechanic with Company D, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment.

The Soldier realized that by keeping the helicopters well maintained the mechanics helped saved lives.

"With this kind of unit if we don't keep them [the aircraft] flying, people die," said Oregon National Guard Staff Sgt. Clint Davis, Salem, Ore., a Company D quality control manager. Davis' job made sure the mechanics did theirs.

"We have caught a few mistakes, but our mechanics are pretty good," he said. "We keep our aircraft pretty clean and have a high standard."

Malaguti and fellow mechanic, Spc. Darren Bradley, reiterated the importance of a MEDEVAC mechanic's job.

"MEDEVACs, we got to keep them flying," said Malaguti.

"We're pretty crucial," said Bradley of Portland, Ore., and a Company D avionics mechanic. "We keep birds up and running, so if a MEDEVAC mission comes up, they can go."

How well they maintained the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters was noticed by others. Bill Conrad, a civilian contractor who helped maintain helicopters, has been her for 2.5 years and praised the Oregon National Guard Soldiers work.

"This is the fourth MEDEVAC unit here," he said. "These guys by far have the best maintained aircraft I've seen."

It was not only the MEDEVAC mechanics that kept Army helicopters flying, but also mechanics with 1st Battalion, 137th Aviation Regiment. Their mission was to maintain and repair helicopters for general aviation support missions. Like the MEDEVAC mechanics, the 1st Battalion mechanics realized the integral part they had for mission success.

"It's important because if we don't fix the aircraft, get it flyable, the flight companies aren't able to perform to their fullest capabilities," said Indiana National Guard Spc. Brandon Farmer, Depauw, Ind., a Company C general aviation mechanic with 1st Battalion.

And while their role within Task Force 38 was important they also received pleasure and satisfaction from doing it.

"It's a sense of pride, not every day you get to work on multi-million dollar aircraft and watch it fly away," said Farmer. "Watching something you put work and effort into fly away, you can't beat that feeling really."

His supervisor, Ohio National Guard Staff Sgt. Erwin Gray, Mechanicsburg, Ohio, and a Company D general aviation mechanic, agreed about the satisfaction from their work on the whirlybirds.

"If your heart's in it you can't help but feel something when it flies off," he said.

Another 1st Battalion Soldier spoke not only of the mechanic's role, but also more specifically Soldier within his airframe shop with Company D.

"We don't make a lot noise, but we get the job done," said Ohio National Guard Staff Sgt. Howard Wade, West Jefferson, Ohio, and airframe noncommissioned officer in charge.

"We're kind of the backbone," he said of his shop. "We get into a little bit of everything from fiberglass repair to fabrication."

Other shops within the unit include avionics, engine, prop and rotor, and general shop.

According to Ohio National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mark W. George, Columbus, Ohio, and back shops platoon sergeant, one of the busiest shops was the prop and rotor shop.

"There's always something for them to do," said George. "Sand just eats the blades up. That's probably their number one job," he said of that shop's maintenance of Black rotor blades.

No matter what shop or what unit, the mechanics and maintenance sections were a primary concern for the task force.

"Maintenance is the center of gravity for Task Force 38," said Col. David Wood, Task Force 38 commander. "Without mechanics we simply would not be able to function and achieve operational success."

Story & photos by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry