Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oregon City recruiters don’t stop at the enlistment

Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Fritsch, ORARNG Recruiter

For several of the Oregon National Guard’s newest Soldiers, the day after Christmas wasn’t spent sleeping-in or shopping at the mall.

Home for their Holiday Block Leave (HBL), their focus was on developing a plan of integration once their Basic Training/AIT is over.  They received several briefs including how to fill out an ADOS packet, what is offered by the Hero’s 2 Hired campaign, and ROTC opportunities, to name a few.

“I was pleasantly surprised that the recruiters spent so much time talking with us about our plan for when we complete training”, said Pvt. Kayla Peterson, who just completed basic training, and is in her fourth week of AIT at Fort Jackson, in Columbia, S.C.

“I don’t think that anyone else in my platoon back at Fort Jackson had this opportunity over HBL,” she added.

Under the Hometown Recruiting Assistance Program (HRAP), Soldiers who return home for the holidays are allowed to work with their recruiters in lieu of charged leave.  The Oregon City recruiters have also elected to provide a seminar for the new Soldiers to help them understand all of the opportunities that await them when they return home after AIT.

“In Oregon, the CTAP, Yellow Ribbon and other reintegration programs are nationally recognized and have proven to be extremely successful for Soldiers returning from deployments,” said Oregon City recruiter Staff Sgt. Roger Griffin.  “We wanted to bring those same resources to our soldiers returning from their initial training,” he said.

The seminar concluded with Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Maj. Beau Lintner, 82 Brigade S-1 Sergeant Major, who addressed the new Soldiers and shared his advice for making the most out of their National Guard career.  Most important, he told them how to stay on track with promotions.

“The future of the Oregon National Guard looks bright after what I saw and heard today,” Lintner said.  “These professional young Soldiers asked questions that show me they are eager to be problem solvers and future leaders in our organization,” he added.  “It was an honor for me to welcome them home.”

The newly-minted Oregon Soldiers are due to report back to their various training sites including Fort Jackson, Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; and Fort Gordon, Ga. between Jan. 1-3.  Some have as few as three weeks remaining in their training while others will continue training for up to 11 weeks.

Participants agreed that they are eager to return and complete their training but even more excited to have their first drill with their Oregon Guard units.  In turn, the Oregon National Guard will be happy to welcome them back.

More information regarding the Oregon City recruiters and their upcoming events, visit them on Facebook here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Project Healing Waters program helps veterans adjust

PACIFIC CITY, Ore. -- The Nestucca River is calm and quiet on a fall September morning, except for the buzz of a group of men and women, their rods and their boats.

At first glance, they appear to be fishermen and women eagerly anticipating a day full of fly fishing and wondering what luck they'll have.
But this group is different. For them, it's not so much about the catch, as the experience on the river.

The people here are all part of a program called Project Healing Waters. It's a national non-profit, but locally has been coordinated in the Portland-Vancouver area for six years. The program is geared for disabled veterans and active duty military personnel who rehabilitate both emotionally and physically through fly-tying and fly fishing.

These veterans say what they get out of it varies just as much as their service records and injuries.

George Lonnee is a Marine who served in the Vietnam War in 1965-66 and 1968-69.
"I'm glad I went, but it was an experience that stayed with me for 40 years," Lonnee said. "I got shrapnel, buried alive from incoming mortars. It was pretty traumatic."

Lonnee suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and he attends counseling every Wednesday. Out on the water, he still thinks about the past.
"I think about Vietnam and what we left behind and what we have that these guys are giving to us that's emotional," Lonnee said about Project Healing Waters. 
He said he's been on two other fly-fishing outings, where veterans are paired up one on one as they drift on the water. Learning how to cast properly, focusing on the rhythm and movement.

Lonnee said Project Healing Waters has helped him tremendously, and even his family has noticed a big difference. He said he's benefited from the program and his connection with another veteran on one boat has helped him personally.
"I"ve mellowed out a bit. I don't have so much anger; I want to go on with life, that's what's neat. I still think of Vietnam and it's tough some times without Bob, I would have never done it."

"They're not just sitting there sewing leather wallets. It's really therapy in the sense that they get to be out in the community," said local Project Healing Waters coordinator Jerry Lorang.
Lorang said each year, for the last six, they've done two workshops a month and six to eight fishing trips a year. He said each of the boats used for the outing on the Nestucca River are donated, as is the time by the guides.

Lorang said the program has benefited countless veterans, in so many ways.
"To a fisherman, I don't have to explain it.  Fishing is therapeutic, it's something we do because it's an escape and it's a wonderful opportunity and we get to do it in some of the most beautiful places in the world," he said.
"They're developing fine motor skills they can develop socialization skills because they're out in the world with others. They get a chance to get away but at the same time do something productive and recreational," said Lorang of the veterans in the program.

Theresa Chinn says the social experience specifically with other veterans is a huge part of why she enjoys the program.
"I've been real isolated for quite some time, so to be in a social experience with people you don't have to explain anything to is kind of like baby steps towards getting out of my house again," said Chinn, who was in the army in 1976-1979. Her knees and feet collapsed while on active duty service, followed by other traumatic events.

While they only caught a few fish, Chinn says it's not about the fight for the fish, which they'd release anyways.  It's not even about casting the perfect line.
"It's calming, like yoga for your brain," said Chinn.

Out on the river, the veterans get to be themselves. Although they're paired up with one other person, they're also surrounded by support, camaraderie and in a pressure free environment. 
"When you're around other veterans, there's an unspoken understanding. We're a cohort," said Chinn.

"We're all brothers. I don't care if they're Marine, Air Force, Army or whatever. We're all there for each other. Trust is the biggest thing, it's not about war stories, it's about making you feel good," said Lonnee.

For many of these veterans, Project Healing Waters might not take away all of the pain, but it is making a big difference for the folks who are dealing with very real problems in their lives.
"They walk away looking like they swallowed a coat hanger because they've got huge smiles on their face, that means so much to me I don't know how else to say it but that it fills my life," said Lorang.

To find out more about this program, visit their Facebook page.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

142 Security Forces Squadron mobilizes for Qatar

121211-Z-CH590-052 by oregonmildep

121211-Z-CH590-052, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Mr. Cameron Smith, representing Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, receives a framed unit guidon from Oregon Air National Guard Master Sgt. Derek Moore, 142 Security Forces Squadron, during the unit’s mobilization ceremony at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., Dec. 11. The unit guidon will hang in the governor’s office throughout the 142 SFS deployment as a reminder of the approximately 30 Oregon sons and daughters who are answering the nation’s call overseas. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oregon's 142nd Fighter Wing welcomes new commander

121202-Z-CH590-268 by oregonmildep
121202-Z-CH590-268, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

Story by Staff Sgt. Brandon Boyd, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs.

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Portland, Ore.— Oregon Air National Guard Col. Richard W. Wedan, former 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander, assumed command of the 142nd Fighter wing from Col. Michael E. Stencel during a change of command ceremony Dec. 2.

The wing’s colors were passed to Wedan during the ceremony, heavy with the responsibility and significance of leading the storied group called the Redhawks.

In his previous role as the vice wing commander, Wedan assisted in leading over 1,000 personnel in the execution of the F-15 aerospace control alert mission defending the Pacific Northwest, worldwide deployments, and domestic operations. The supporting role now becomes the leading role.

The outgoing commander thanked his family for their support during his tenure and the distinguished guests for attending the ceremony. Stencel also addressed the members of the 142nd in attendance, thanking them for their contributions, leadership and sacrifices that helped the wing achieve each mission.

During the ceremony, Wedan thanked Stencel in turn, for his leadership and tireless work ethic.

“Mike, you are truly a great man of tremendous character,” said Wedan.

As wing commander, Wedan will oversee the 142nd Fighter Wing just as Airmen prepare for an upcoming Combined Unit Exercise (CUE) scheduled for July, 2012.

During the ceremony, Wedan laid out a four-point leadership plan for the future of the 142nd Fighter Wing focusing on the homeland defense mission, base facilities, community engagement, recruitment and retention.

“I challenge you to embrace the endeavor through your whole-hearted contribution and best efforts,” said Wedan.

Wedan enlisted in the Minnesota Air National Guard in 1988 as a command post controller with the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., attended undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, and received his initial F-16 training at Kingsley Field, in Klamath Falls, Ore., in 1991.

In 1997, Wedan returned to Oregon as an instructor pilot with the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, where he served for 12 years prior to being assigned to Oregon’s Joint Force Headquarters for three years as the director of operations.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oregon signs historic State Partnership agreement with Vietnam

Oregon National Guard Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees (left), Adjutant General, Oregon, and Vietnam Lt. Gen. Tran Quang Khue, Vice Chairman of the National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM), sign the State Partnership Program agreement at the Ministry of Defense Guest House in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 27.  U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear (center, yellow tie), and other Oregon and Vietnam officials look on.  The State Partnership Program reflects an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard, emphasizing its unique state-federal and civil-military characteristics to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international non-governmental organizations.  Oregon also has a partnership with Bangladesh.  (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Hanoi).

HANOI, Vietnam—The Oregon National Guard has signed a partnership with Vietnam as part of the State Partnership Program during a ceremony held Nov. 27 at the Ministry of Defense Guest House in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon, signed the agreement with Vietnam Lt. Gen. Tran Quang Khue, Vice Chairman of the National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM).

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear, Oregon Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Todd Plimpton, Assistant Adjutant General (Army), Oregon Air National Guard Col. Mark Crosby, Oregon’s State Partnership Program Director, and other Vietnam officials were on hand for the signing.

The agreement comes just as the United States begins ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  Events and commemorations to honor era veterans and casualties are scheduled in both countries through the year 2025.  For more information on anniversary observances, go here.

The State Partnership Program reflects an evolving international affairs mission for the National Guard, emphasizing its unique state-federal and civil-military characteristics to interact with both the active and reserve forces of foreign nations, interagency partners, and international non-governmental organizations.

State partners participate in a broad range of security cooperation activities to include homeland defense/security, disaster response/mitigation, consequence/crisis management, interagency cooperation, border/port/aviation security, combat medical, fellowship-style internships, and bilateral familiarization events that lead to training and exercise opportunities.

The State Partnership Program currently supports 62 partnerships between states and nations.  For more information about the program, download the SPP factsheet here.

The Oregon National Guard is also partnered with Bangladesh.

For more information contact Staff Sgt. Joseph Barto, State Partnership Program, at, or 503-584-2237.

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

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oregon's Assistant Adjutant General joins local leaders for Veterans Day ceremony at Vancouver Barracks

121111-Z-CH590-003 by oregonmildep
121111-Z-CH590-003, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

Oregon Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Bruce W. Prunk, Assistant Adjutant Gen. Air; U.S. Army Col. Peter Norseth; Ann Rivers, State Senator for the 18th district; Vancouver Mayor Timothy D. Levitt; and Dan Tarbell, event Co-Chairman, render honors during a wreath laying ceremony at the Veterans Day event held at the Fort Vancouver Barracks post cemetery in Vancouver, Wash., Nov. 11. (Oregon Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Future military members honor veterans at University of Portland ceremony

121111-Z-TK422-844 by oregonmildep
121111-Z-TK422-844, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

A Cadet Honor Guard from the University of Portland presents the colors during the Praying Hands Memorial at the University of Portland campus in Portland, Ore., Nov. 11. Air Force and Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets participated in the ceremony, following a 24-hour vigil held at the campus to honor veterans of all branches of the military. Oregon Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Steven D. Gregg, Commander, Oregon Air National Guard, was the featured speaker at the event. (Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Oregon Soldiers and Airmen celebrate Veterans Day at annual parade in Albany, Ore.

121110-Z-OT568-006 by oregonmildep
121110-Z-OT568-006, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

Senior Airman Brittany Corr (right), Oregon Air National Guard Category I Airman of the Year, Spc. Ryan Johnson (center), Oregon Army National Guard Soldier of the Year, and State Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Lake (left), watch from the reviewing stand during the Veterans Day Parade, Nov. 10, in Albany, Ore. It is customary for the Oregon National Guard to host Airmen and Soldiers of the year in the reviewing stand at the annual event. (Photo by Staff Sgt. April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stolen WWII medals reinstated to Soldier's sister

121109-Z-TK422-788 by oregonmildep
121109-Z-TK422-788, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
David Funk (right), Chairman of the 41st Infantry Division Association, presents Rosetta LaBonte, of Portland, Ore., with the Purple Heart medal at the Oregon National Guard's Open House at Camp Withycombe, in Clackamas, Ore., Nov. 9, as former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski looks on.

The medals, which were stolen during a home burglary, were bestowed to LaBonte's family following numerous inquiries by Funk as he worked through various government agencies to have the medals reinstated.

LaBonte's brother, Sgt. Eli A. DuMonte, who was a member of the Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Division during WWII, was killed during the battle of Biak in 1944.  He was posthumously awarded the medals.

"This was the right thing to do, and I wasn't going to take no for an answer," Funk said, speaking about the government bureaucracy he faced trying to get the medals reinstated.

Funk also faced the challenge presented by archived military records in St. Louis, Mo., which had been destroyed in a fire in 1973. Undaunted, Funk queried several government agencies, and tracked down a fellow Soldier of DuMonte in order to obtain sworn statements supporting the original awarding of the medals.

"This is for my brother, but it's really for my mother and my family," LaBonte said following the ceremony in the second floor auditorium.

The 41st Infantry Division's deployment during WWII was the longest on record, and involved the largest number of Oregon Soldiers.  Personnel were primarily assigned to the Pacific Theater of Operations, fighting in several key battles, including Biak and New Guinea.

The ceremony was attended by about 100 local business leaders, Oregon National Guard leadership, and well-wishers.

The Camp Withycombe open house also brought together several groups, including Native American Tribal members, Oregon National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, veterans groups, and area residents.

A portion of the ceremony included a presentation of donations by local businesses for the renovation of the Oregon Military Museum, located at Camp Withycombe.  Three companies each donated $50,000 at the event.

For more information on the 41st Inf. Div. Association, go here.  For more information on the Oregon Historical Outreach Foundation, and the capital campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the Oregon Military Museum, visit their website here.

Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Veterans Day for Oregon's Airmen, 1944

Story by Terrence G. Popravak, Jr., Lt Col, USAF (Retired),
142nd Fighter Wing Historian

As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us remember the original members of the Oregon National Guard’s first aviation unit, the 123rd Observation Squadron, who remained in the unit all through its World War II existence, including the wartime overseas deployment to China. 

Redesignated as the 35th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (35PRS) before going overseas (and as the 123rd Fighter Squadron after the war), these Oregonians and many other American Airmen of the wartime 35PRS operated the F-5E Photo Lightning in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of operations.

On Nov. 11, 1944, the squadron’s George Flight, a small detachment of four aircraft and required personnel, was operational at the forward airfield of Yunnanyi, 130 miles west of Kunming near the Burma border. 

On this day, known then as Armistice Day, 1st Lts. William W. Dean III (later MIA) and Estal W. Behrens (later KIA) flew combat aerial reconnaissance missions. 

Dean flew F-5E #806 on a two-hour 30-minute photo recon mission along a strip in between Bhamo, in the northern part of Burma, eastward across the border back into China at Manhsien.

Behrens flew F-5E #810 on a two-hour and 45 minute “Tri-Met” mission along a portion of the famed Burma Road from Wanling south to Lashio.  The Trimetrogon configuration of two oblique right and left cameras and one vertical camera was used for aerial photo-mapping, a welcome capability in the poorly charted expanses of the CBI.

Both missions were flown over enemy occupied areas of Burma surrounding the northern part of the Burma Road, toward which Allied forces from India and China were approaching in the hard-fought Burma campaign of 1944.

Just a few days before, on Nov. 5, 1944, the squadron lost its first member in the war, when 1Lt Franklin H. McKinney was declared missing in action.  Recently a report by the government of Thailand reported that his F-5E aircraft, #811 has been found in Ban Mae Gua, Sobprab Sub-District, Lampang Province in Thailand.  This report has yet to be verified.

As Armistice Day, 1944 progressed westward across the planet to the Europe Theater of Operations (ETO), the 371st Fighter Group (371FG, today’s 142nd Fighter Wing) was involved in split operations.  Group personnel were at Dole Airfield in eastern France not far from the Swiss border, and the group’s P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers were at Dijon Airfield, some 30 miles to the northwest of Dole.  The aircraft were flown to Dijon as a result of flooding at Dole the day before due to the Doubs river overflowing its banks.  Back in the Dole tents, mess halls and line equipment were hastily moved to higher ground as the floodwaters spread.

The group was informed that it would continue these split operations between Dole and Dijon until the Doubs receded and the aircraft were able to return to Dole, which turned out to be 11 days later.  However, on Nov. 11, the weather was terrible and there was no flying at all.  Rain, mud, snow and flood would hamper the group’s plans.

In this period the 371FG was flying missions in and out of nasty weather in support of the Franco-American 6th Army Group, which included the U.S. Seventh Army.  In the last week of October, the group’s 405th Fighter Squadron had just flown a remarkable series of aerial resupply missions in support of the “Lost Battalion” in Vosges Mountains, many in miserable weather, losing 1Lt Robert A. Booth and two P-47 aircraft in the process.

The service and sacrifice of the personnel in these flying units on Armistice Day, 1944, in China, Burma and in France, gives an inspiring example of service and sacrifice for us today.  On many subsequent Armistice Days since WWII, and continuously since the early 1960s, men and women of the ORANG’s 142nd Fighter Wing have maintained Aerospace Control Alert, serving and sacrificing on what for many citizens is perhaps just another holiday. 

But it’s not just any holiday.  We should pause on Veterans Day to remember and honor our veterans and all their years of dedicated duty for our community, state and nation, whether overseas or stateside now, at war in 1944 or in peace today, ready to defend, 24/7.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oregon Soldiers return home following one-year Afghanistan deployment

121027-FS713_325 by oregonmildep
121027-FS713_325, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Oregon National Guard Spc. Brad Porter, of the 1186 Military Police Company, holds his daughter, Niema, during his unit's change of command and demobilization ceremony at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., Oct. 27.

The unit recently returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they provided force protection, personal security for high profile visitors, and trained the Afghan National Police.

The event also included a 30-day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event that ensures returning service members and their families are aware of health, employment and education benefits and resources. This is Porter's third deployment (Oregon Military Department Photo by Sgt. Cory Grogan)

To see the rest of the photos from this event visit our Flickr page here.

Posted Oct. 27, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anti-terrorism grants awarded to Oregon counties total some $1.4M

SALEM, Ore.-- Grants totaling $1.4 million dollars have been awarded to 21 Oregon counties to provide resources and capabilities for responding to terrorism through the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), according to the director of the Oregon Military Department's Office of Emergency Management.

The SHSP is provided through FEMA and focuses on responders including emergency management, law enforcement, fire protection, public health, 911 programs, and others.

A priority for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management is the regional and collaborative enhancement of planning, organization, equipment, training and exercise capabilities.

"The grant money will help equip communities throughout Oregon with the equipment and resources needed for terrorism and all hazard emergencies," said Martin Plotner, Director, Oregon Military Department's, Office of Emergency Management. 

In June, grant application workshops were held throughout the state explaining the program and what projects and programs qualified for these funds.   A peer review group of state, local and county emergency professionals screened and evaluated all grant submissions.  Those counties who received approval have been notified.

Below is the complete list of conditional awards that were approved.

FY2012 Approved By Jurisdiction Report

Benton County: Conditionally Approved, $162,938.00

Clackamas County: Conditionally Approved, $36,036.00

Clatsop CountyConditionally Approved, $31,057.00

Columbia CountyConditionally Approved, $16,000.00

Coos CountyConditionally Approved, $27,430.00

Crook County: Conditionally Approved, $12,476.00

Deschutes County: Conditionally Approved, $30,649.00

Douglas County: Conditionally Approved, $66,520.00

Harney County: Conditionally Approved, $10,364.00

Hood River County: Conditionally Approved, $12,385.00

Jackson County: Conditionally Approved, $1,225.00

Jefferson County: Conditionally Approved, $12,128.00

Lane County: Conditionally Approved, $63,716.00

Marion County: Conditionally Approved, $56,503.00

Multnomah County: Conditionally Approved, $98,668.00

Polk County: Conditionally Approved, $190,650.00

Sherman County: Conditionally Approved, $9,691.00

Tillamook County: Conditionally Approved, $12,400.00

Wasco County: Conditionally Approved, $12,687.00

Washington County: Conditionally Approved, $142,348.00

Yamhill County: Conditionally Approved, $21,190.00

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Home loan rates drop to historic lows for veterans

SALEM - For the second time in less than a month, the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs (ODVA) has reduced its home loan rates. A 30-year fixed rate loan is now 2.99 percent (3.225 APR).

Additionally, the ORVET Home Loan Program's 20-year loan rate is now 2.625 percent (3.62 APR) and 3.25 percent (3.376 APR) for a 30-year fixed rate loan with no origination fee.  ORVET continually offers one of the lowest and more competitive home loan interest rates available to qualified veteran home buyers.

The ORVET Home Loan Program is a state of Oregon veteran benefit and is separate from the federal VA home loan guaranty program.  Even if a veteran has purchased a home using the federal VA program, they may still be eligible for a home loan through the ODVA.

"These very low competitive rates coupled with today's home market will give our qualified veterans an even greater opportunity to buy a home," said Jim Willis, Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. "ODVA is a gateway for veteran borrowers to some of the most competitive rates available."

The ORVET Home Loan is a lifetime benefit for eligible veterans with a maximum loan amount of $417,000 for a single family, owner occupied residence.

For more information about eligibility and rate details, contact ODVA's Home Loan Department at 1-888-673-8387, or visit their website here.

Posted Oct. 23, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oregon National Guard dedicates new facility in Dallas, Ore.

--> Above: Dignitaries participate in a ribbon cutting to dedicate the new Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas, Ore., Oct. 12. From left: Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton; Lewis Linn McArthur, great-grandson of the late Col. James W. Nesmith; Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon; Congressman Kurt Schrader; Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney; Polk County Commissioner Mike Ainsworth; and Larry Deibert, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army.  The Nesmith Readiness Center is home to the Oregon Army National Guard's 162 Engineer Company. (Photo by Staff Sgt. April Davis, Oregon Military Department)


The Oregon National Guard dedicated the new Col. James W.Nesmith Readiness Center during a ribbon cutting ceremony, Oct. 12, in Dallas, Ore.

The Nesmith Readiness Center is home to the Oregon Army National Guard's 162 Engineer Company.

The readiness center is named for Col. James W. Nesmith, who served in the Rogue and Yakima Wars, and represented Oregon as a United States Senator.  Nesmith also served on the Committee of Military Affairs, where he supported measures which provided for road and railroad construction and river improvements throughout Oregon.  Nesmith also opposed the payment of bounties to enlist Soldiers as well as a provision that released men from serving upon payment of a $300 commutation fee.

Known as "the father of Polk County," he pushed for legislation in 1847 to create a separate county out of what was then a very large Yamhill County.  In 1849, Nesmith purchased O'Neals Mills west of Dallas, and changed its name to Nesmith's Mills. This became the first post office site in Polk County and James Nesmith acted as postmaster from 1850 to 1852. He was elected treasurer of Polk County in 1852 and, in 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed him U.S. Marshall.

The Design-Build team of Lease Crutcher Lewis, LLC and THA Architecture were contracted in September of 2010 to design and construct a 41,263,000 square-foot facility that will house the 162 Engineer Company with 122 Soldiers.  The new readiness center, completed in September 2012, replaces the old armory built in 1911 at 18,206 square-feet which had suffered severe damage to the roof and supporting members and degraded masonry.

Significant features of the building include a full commercial grade kitchen, modern weight room, a 1,225 square-foot small-arms training simulation room, a 5,800 square-foot assembly area, 2,200 square-feet of dividable classroom space, and 2,848 square-feet of maintenance bays to support the units 75 engineer vehicles. 

This facility will serve as a community resource with flexible rental space to accommodate events such as weddings, gatherings and concerts.  According to designers, the building was designed for simple operation, low-maintenance and ease of management.

The overall design helps the facility blend into the surrounding countryside. The green design meets the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and is currently being considered for a Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

For another look at the readiness center, see the story from the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, here.

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oregon Guard honors former governor by naming installation after him

121002-Z-TK422-1302 by oregonmildep
121002-Z-TK422-1302, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (second from left), pictured with Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees (far left), Adjutant General, Oregon; Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber; and Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (far right), following the dedication ceremony for the Governor Theodore Kulongoski Army Aviation Support Facility, in Salem, Ore., Oct. 2. The installation was named in honor of the former governor for his support of Oregon’s Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen. Kulongoski, Oregon’s longest standing wartime governor, who served as commander-in-chief of the Oregon National Guard, attended almost all of the Oregon National Guard’s deployment ceremonies and the funerals of Oregon service members killed overseas during his two terms in office. “Always a Marine, Always a Soldier, forever an Oregonian,” Courtney said of Kulongoski during his speech. (Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Maine, Oregon aviation units develop MEDEVAC partnership

Story by 1st Lt. Kerri Brantley, 35th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT - The focus of the mission in Kuwait is partnerships with the friends of the region while the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade is deployed here. However there is also a state-to-state partnership being fostered in the medical evacuation company.

Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment (medevac) is comprised of Forward Support Medical Teams from both Maine and Oregon National Guard's, these states were two of the last few wholly organic medevac units within a given state. The two units did not make the merge into one company until they met at Fort Hood, Texas, during pre-mobilization training and validation. From past deployments, the company commander, Maj. Mark Stevens, from Saco, Maine, has been told about all the issues of working side-by-side with different states.

“We all come from different states, different cultures, one of my biggest concern was our people wouldn’t get along,” said Stevens.

A significant concern of the commander was whether the unit would come together as a team or be two-separate entities; however that is not at all what has happened with this group.

“This has been an extremely easy transition, personalities, training, standards of operations, all lined up,” said Stevens. “They were just like us, Oregon fit right in. This was great that it happened to be so smooth, because this is a long-term partnership. This deployment is the foundation and it was a good start.”

The only disagreement the members from both states have had is the correct pronunciation of Oregon.

“As commander, that has made my job easier, having good Soldiers from both states,” said Stevens.

The commander was not the only one who feared that the unit would not come together as a team, 1st Lt. Samantha Franklin, of Eugene, Ore., is the assistant platoon leader and had similar apprehensions.

“I thought we would be excluded from missions, but that was falsity. There has never been and ‘us and them’ mentality,” said Franklin. “Once we all got together at Fort Hood, leadership has worked hard to ensure there were no lines drawn.”

The unit has faced some struggles together and endured a loss of one of their Soldiers, but in that time of despair the unit stood together. When one was struggling with the loss, another Soldier would be that stronghold.

“The ability for the unit to come together, even in the hard times, just affirmed we are a cohesive team, we know we can lean on one another,” said Franklin. “We also mix the aircrews together, so there is never all Maine or all Oregon personnel on a flight. This allows us to learn from one another all the time.”

The company is the only medevac asset in the 35th CAB, with the primary mission to be the air ambulance for this region. However, when not conducting medical evacuations for troops here, they are training other units for what they have coined as Medevac 101. To date, the company has educated almost 900 people in medevac training.

Medevac 101 teaches evacuation protocols; how to call in the Army’s 9-Line medevac request, how to prepare the landing zone, helicopter safety, and more. Flight medics are the primary instructors for the training.

“The training has multiple levels starting with the basic terminology to simulating a live transport while the helicopter is powered up with the blades running,” said Sgt. Erica Yates.

Back home, in Maine, Yates is a nurse; she is new to aviation but likes teaching the Combat Lifesaver course and Medevac 101.

“The thing I appreciate most is for everyone to have basic safety and understanding of how to operate around the helicopter,” Yates said. “If they had to do this for real, they will know how to do it safely.”

Also playing a vital role in the training is another instructor, Spc. Matthew Maloney, from Oregon. He is also new to aviation, but an experienced combat medic and previously deployed to Iraq with an infantry unit. He was recently hero of the week for his eagerness to progress as a flight medic; extremely active in training the forces, having a great capacity to learn and retain knowledge, which is vital to being a successful flight medic.

“Combining flight crews, for training and real-world evacuations has allowed individuals to come together as a team, we all came here for the same purpose,” said Maloney. “Being able to help someone in a critical situation and train others to help is a very rewarding experience.”

Capt. William Bradbury, from Maine, led a medevac group in the partnership with Jordan, in case a real-world situation happened, they would be there to help. The unit took the opportunity to conduct training flights while there as well.

“The terrain is different in Jordan and it was good to get that experience,” said Bradbury. “We integrated flight crews, so that everyone felt like a part of the whole and no one feels like an outsider.”

Long-lasting friendships have developed over the course of this deployment.

“We just clicked, our values were very similar, it’s like we found our long-lost brothers and sisters,” said Bradbury. “I will definitely stay in contact via Facebook and email. It would be really rewarding to do a Yellow Ribbon event together after the deployment.”

Yellow Ribbon is a Guard and Reserve program that assists members who have served in combat and experienced the stress of war. Once they return to communities and jobs scattered across the nation and to friends and family who may not grasp the depth of their experience, Charlie Company would like the chance to be able to support one another once they are home.

“It would be great to see where they live and for us to get the chance to show them around our home and meet each other’s families,” said Bradbury. “It may or may not happen, but it would be an opportunity, which we would be forever grateful.”

The unit continues to support partnerships in this region that promote stability and security, as they also foster this state-to-state medevac partnership.

“We have set the baseline for a long-term partnership, along with mission success and established lifelong friendships; it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Stevens.

The unit is due home early spring 2013.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oregon Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major assumes highest position in the Army National Guard

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120926-A-1457S-639, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., director of the Army National Guard, ceremoniously transfers responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Burch, the ninth command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, to Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley, the incoming 10th command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, during a ceremony at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va., Sept. 26, 2012. (Photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

D.C. Ceremony makes Oregon Soldier senior ranking enlisted Soldier for Army National Guard

Citizen-Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard and employees of the Oregon Military Department look on from a conference room at the Oregon Military Department in Salem, Ore., as Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley moved from being Oregon’s State Command Sergeant Major to the new Command Sergeant Major of the Army National Guard during a Change of Responsibility Ceremony in Washington D.C., Sept. 26.  Conley went from being the senior ranking enlisted Soldier in the Oregon National Guard to senior ranking enlisted Soldier for the entire Army National Guard.  (Oregon Military Department Photo by Sgt. Cory Grogan)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Oregon's Soldiers put the 'boom' in 1812 Overture

Citizen-Soldiers with the 2-218 Field Artillery, Oregon Army National Guard, demonstrate the abilities and features of their howitzers at the Oregon Symphony Waterfront Park Concert, Aug. 30, in Portland, Ore.
The howitzers have become a tradition at the concert, firing during the playing of Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture.
Photo by Sgt. Jason van Mourik, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oregon Airman recognized during 2012 ANG Outstanding Airmen of the Year ceremony

Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the director of the Air National Guard, and Chief Master Sgt.
Christopher E. Muncy, the command chief master sergeant to the director of the ANG, present Senior Master Sgt. Luke W. Thompson, 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon ANG, with the Outstanding Airman Ribbon during the 2012 ANG Outstanding Airmen of the Year awards ceremony at the Air National Guard Readiness Center, Joint Base Andrews, Md., Aug. 22.

The ANG Outstanding Airmen of the Year ceremony recognizes the ANGs six top performers for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.

National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Marvin Preston.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oregon National Guard participates in Salute the Troops event

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120825-Z-PL933-009, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

A boy looks through the sights of a Howitzer, part of the display put on by the Oregon Army National Guard at the 2012 Salute the Troops 125 race event at the Portland International Raceway, in Portland, Ore., Aug. 25-26. This is the fourth year that the Oregon Army National Guard has participated in this event. Photo by Sgt. Jason Van Mourik, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oregon Army National Guard assists with Barry Point Fire in southern central Oregon

Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopters stage at the Lakeview Helibase to assist with the Barry Point fire in south central Oregon, Aug. 18. So far the fire, which has scortched nearly 94,000 acres, is almost 50 percent contained. Photo courtesy of Charlie 7-158 Aviation, Oregon Army National Guard.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Oregon Army National Guard, Coast Guard conduct week-long training exercise

ASTORIA, Ore. — Coast Guard Sector Columbia River’s Vessel Boarding Security Team and the Oregon Army National Guard 102nd Civil Support Team trained together in Astoria this week to prepare for potential chemical and/or radiation threats posed by vessels entering the Columbia River.

In the event that the Coast Guard VBST discovers high levels of radiation or unfamiliar chemicals aboard a vessel, the CST would be called upon to identify the material, and decontaminate the vessel and any members of the team with whom it had come into contact.

The teams worked together in a real world scenario April 8, 2011, when the freight vessel Pan Pac Spirit was cleared to enter the Columbia River. Both teams boarded the vessel, which had recently transited through potentially contaminated waters in the vicinity of Fukushima, Japan. The VBST provided security and basic radiation detection while the CST offered more technologically advanced radiological and chemical detecting capabilities.

Coast Guard members from Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Wash., assist a member of the Oregon National Guard 102nd Civil Support Team aboard the Tongue Point Job Corps training vessel Ironwood during a training exercise in Astoria, Thursday, August 16, 2012. The exercise was part of week-long joint training operation hosted by Sector Columbia River. (Coast Guard photo by Fireman Loumania Stewart.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1186 Military Police Company commander discusses tour in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Maj. Jack Gillentine, commander of the 1186 Military Police Company, an Oregon Army National Guard unit currently deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan, discusses his unit's past year in a video interview conducted by the Oregon Guard's 115 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

The interview is available on the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System website:

The 1186 MP Co., consisting of approximately 180 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers from throughout the state, deployed to Afghanistan in October 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit provides force protection, personal security for high profile visitors, and trains the Afghan National Police in their area. The unit is scheduled to return to Oregon in fall 2012.

The 115 MPAD, consisting of approximately 18 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers, arrived in Afghanistan in July. The unit provides theater-level public affairs support with print and broadcast media operations.

Monday, August 13, 2012

41 Special Troops Battalion awarded Meritorious Unit Citation

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120811-A-AS714-001, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Lt. Col. Sean Nikkila (center), commander of the 41 Special Troops Battalion, affixes a Meritorious Unit Citation streamer to the battalion’s guidon as Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Foesch (left) looks on during an award ceremony at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., August 11. The battalion received the Meritorious Unit Citation for exceptionally meritorious service while conducting convoy and base security operations during their 2009-2010 deployment to Iraq with 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jalayna Lagomarsino, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oregon Soldiers assist coastal communities with emergency preparation

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20120810-A-PL933-003, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.

Above: Spc. Corey Buoy and Spc. Franklin Dominguez, with the 3670th Maintenance Company ground support platoon, conduct preventive care and maintenance work on a military generator used by the City of Seaside as a back up power source in their Water Works section, Aug. 10. The 3670th Maintenance Company provides basic care and preventative maintenance to generators in several coastal cities. Along with maintaining the generators, Citizen-Soldiers also train the local employees on the proper care of older military generators. (Photo by Sgt. Jason van Mourik, 115 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard)

SEASIDE, Ore. - Citizen-Soldiers with the 3670th Maintenance Company ground support platoon, 82 Brigade, Oregon Army National Guard, assisted Oregon coastal communities with equipment repair and maintenance in preparation for natural disasters and emergencies, Aug. 10, in Seaside, Ore.

Soldiers trained City Water Works employees in Seaside the proper preventative care and maintenance for older military generators used as back up systems in case of emergencies and disasters.

"We've had nothing but positive feedback from the groups we support," said Chief Warrant Officer 3, Tim Coronado, a ground support maintenance equipment engineer with the 3670th. "My soldiers love going out and working in the local communities, it helps build relationships across the board."

There are approximately six different communities that request maintenance and training support throughout the year.

"We send out our contact teams during our annual training," said Maj.
Richard Ybarra, 3670th company commander. "The communities understand that it provides training to our Soldiers and the local employees. It's a win-win situation."

Cities like Seaside may not always be able to purchase brand new back up generators, and that's where the local relationships with the Oregon Army National Guard and 3670th Maintenance Company help out.

"This is a key partnership that we have with the communities," said Brig. Gen. Eric Bush, 82 Brigade Commander. "It dovetails nicely with the concept of military support to civilian authorities and building relationships at the local level."

Repairing generators and building community relationships, Soldiers of the 3670th hope to continue on with the program as long as they are needed.

"It's not about getting recognition for what we do," said Coronado. "It's about training our Soldiers and lending a hand to our neighbors."

To see the rest of the photos from this set, visit our official Flickr page.

Story by Sgt. Jason Van Mourik,
Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office

Miss Oregon volunteers at Operation Homefront's Back to School Brigade event

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120810-F-TK422-010, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Nichole Mead, Miss Oregon 2012, speaks to children of Oregon National Guard members during Operation Homefront’s Back to School Brigade event at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., Aug. 10.

The event, organized by the Oregon Chapter of Operation Homefront, gave school supplies and backpacks to children of Oregon National Guard members at no cost. Mead helped participants pick out school supplies and backpacks donated by Dollar Tree.

Oregon National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

To see the rest of the photos from this event, visit our official Flickr page, where you can also download the high resolution images.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oregon Air National Guard unit recognized with AF Outstanding Unit Award

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120804-Z-NJ935-007, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Capt. Michael R. Balzotti, commander of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron, accepts the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award on behalf of his unit from Brig. Gen. Steven D. Gregg, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 4. (Oregon Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.-The 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron (ATCS) of the Oregon Air National Guard received the 2011 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award presented by Brig. Gen. Steven D. Gregg, the Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Oregon, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

The award cited a range of accomplishments by the 270th ATCS, "from providing fixed base Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities for the only F-15 training site, to training and deploying air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel to every Area of Responsibility (AOR)."

The award also stated that, "The unit deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, serving as Ground Radar Systems Craftsman and significantly contributed to over 2,600 hours of successful operational surveillance, tracking more than 155,000 aircraft ... with zero mishaps."

This the seventh consecutive year the 270th has earned the AF Outstanding Unit Award.

"It is an honor to add another award to your list of accomplishments," Gregg said. "We are proud you are a part of the Oregon Guard team."

Lieutenant General Harry M. Wyatt III, Director, Air National Guard, passed along his personal congratulations writing, "The selection for this prestigious award reflects great credit upon the 270th ATCS, the State of Oregon, and the Air National Guard."

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon, also extended his personal congratulations for a job well done.

Derouin assumes command of Oregon Army National Guard Aviation unit inSalem

The Oregon Army National Guard conducted a change of command ceremony for its aviation unit, 2 Battalion, 641 Aviation Regiment, Aug. 4, in Salem, Ore.

Outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Mark Ulvin, welcomed incoming commander, Lt. Col. Pete Derouin, after a two-year stint that included more than 30 search and rescue missions.

After taking command in August of 2010, Ulvin oversaw the deployment of all seven of his subordinate flying units across the globe and nation. He has flown more than 4,000 hours in the UH-60 and C-12 aircrafts and currently performs duties as an instructor pilot and maintenance examiner for Blackhawk helicopters.

Derouin served as the Balkans operation officer for U.S. Army Europe after 9-11 before commanding the Ft. Hood Regional Flight Center. In 2004-05, he deployed to Iraq as executive officer executive officer for Operational Support Airlift Command's Theatre Aviation Battalion, and was responsible for all Army fixed-wing aircraft with passenger and cargo transport in Iraq.

The 2-641 Aviation Regt. provides theater aviation operations when deployed including cargo and troop transport. The battalion also has command and control of Army National Guard aviation assets providing aviation support across the state for various missions including search and rescue and wild land fire fighting support.

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120804-A-FS713-323, a photo by oregonmildep on Flickr.
Above: Oregon Army National Guard Brig. Gen Eric Bush (center), Assistant Adjutant General-Army, transfers the 2 Battalion, 641 Aviation Regiment colors from Lt. Col. Mark Ulvin (left), outgoing unit commander, to Lt. Col. Pete Derouin (right), incoming unit commander, during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 4, in Salem, Ore. The aviation battalion provides theater aviation operations including cargo and troop transport, and has command and control of Army National Guard aviation assets which provide aviation support across the state for various missions including search and rescue and wild land fire fighting support. (Photo by Sgt. Cory Grogan, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)