Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New VA Secretary presents Bronze Star, Purple Heart to wounded hero

By Lori Newman

Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald presented Staff Sgt. Steven Tessitore the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart medal during a ceremony Dec. 19 at the Center for the Intrepid.

Brooke Army Medical Center Commander Col. Evan Renz hosted the ceremony, with Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also in attendance.

“It is heartwarming to see your family here today,” said McDonald who met with Tessitore and his family prior to the ceremony.

“Our nation is indebted to you and we are also indebted to your family as well.”

Tessitore, an infantryman with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, suffered a gunshot wound Nov. 15 while on a Quick Reaction Force in Afghanistan.

McDonald said he read Tessitore’s personal account of being wounded and the days that followed.

“He was shot in the throat, gravely wounded, and he received what he described as ‘the luckiest’ lethal wound,” McDonald said.

“By Nov. 19 he was communicating with friends, family and fellow Soldiers in Afghanistan. Apart from what that says about technology, think about what it says about our Soldiers -- about their focus, their fortitude and their skill in life-saving first aid in the direst of circumstance,” the secretary said.

“Think what it says about all the surgeons, doctors, nurses and support staff who attended to Sgt. Tessitore from the dirty, dusty streets of a faraway land to the pristine Brooke Army Medical Center.”

McDonald thanked Tessitore for his service and sacrifice, and promised that when it was time, the VA will be honored to care for him and his family, and “will provide all the services and benefits he has so richly earned.”

Tessitore received the Bronze Star for “his outstanding performance, expertise and dedication to duty which greatly contributed to the success of the unit’s mission during combat operations.”

The Bronze Star medal is the fourth highest individual military award and the ninth-highest by order of precedence in the U.S. military. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit or meritorious service in a combat zone.

The Purple Heart is the oldest U.S. military decoration in present use and the first American award made available to the common Soldier. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hand of the enemy.

“Nobody in their right mind wants a Purple Heart, and I find myself receiving one today against everything that I have ever wanted, but I appreciate it,” Tessitore said. “The only reason I am here today to receive this medal is because of my unit and how well they prepared, so on behalf of Bravo Company 2-162 and my entire battalion, thank you very much for taking care of me and for allowing me to be here today.”

Following the ceremony McDonald and Winnefeld spoke with amputees about their care and toured the CFI and BAMC.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oregon military voters stationed overseas encouraged to submit absentee ballots early

If you are a registered Oregon voter who is stationed overseas, here is some information on voting in the general election.

There are several laws which apply to voters, and specific guidelines for absentee voting. In order to vote in U.S. elections you must be:

• A citizen of the United States on the date of the election in which you wish to vote.
• At least 18 years old on Election Day. (Some states allow 17-year olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 on or before the general election).

The absentee voting process applies to you if you are:

• An active duty member of the U.S. Uniformed Services, Merchant Marine or Activated National Guard.
• A family member (spouse or dependent).
• A U.S. citizen residing outside the U.S.

You must request your absentee ballot before Oct. 30, 2014, and your finished ballot must be received by 8:00 p.m. PST, on Nov. 4, 2014.  Keep in mind this is not a mailing deadline! You must mail your voting materials early enough to account for mail delivery times.

For Oregon-specific questions on voting and the process to request your absentee ballot, visit http://www.fvap.gov/oregon.  Here, you can also find links to review Oregon’s absentee voting guidelines, review the state’s election website, and find local election officials. You can also check the status of your submitted ballot.

If you are from another state, visit http://www.fvap.gov/military-voter, and click on your home state.  Keep in mind, each state has specific local and regional laws governing absentee voting and deadlines for submitting ballots.

For more information on military members registering to vote, returning ballots, or other questions about voting, visit http://www.fvap.gov/military-voter/overview.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oregon National Guard member added to Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial

Nancy Farrar (center) is assisted by a member of the Oregon National Guard Honor Guard (right) as she adds her cousin’s name to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Staff during a ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Salem, Ore. Melvin Claude Richardson, an Oregon National Guard member, was killed while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. Farrar worked with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to have Richardson added to the memorial. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
An Oregon National Guard Soldier was added to the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial and honored in a ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Sal em, Ore.

The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) added five Oregon fire fighters who were killed in the line of duty to the list of names on the memorial. The ceremony brought together multiple fire fighting and public safety agencies from throughout the state, including members of the Oregon National Guard, to honor the fallen and their families.

Melvin Claude Richardson, age 18, of Albany, Ore., was killed on September 6, 1935 when a flaming tree branch fell and struck him. He was one of 40 initial National Guard fire fighters recruited to fight the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres in the Willamette National Forest.

Richardson's cousin, Nancy Farrar, contacted the DPSST to have his name added to the wall of the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial. Farrar also added his name to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Staff during the ceremony.
A combined Honor Guard representing multiple fire fighting and public safety agencies fold the American flag during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in Salem, Ore.  A member of the Oregon National Guard, Melvin Claude Richardson, was added to the memorial and honored during the ceremony for his selfless sacrifice while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

Members of the Oregon Fire Service Honor Guard, including their Dalmatian mascot, kneel at the Oregon Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial honoring fire fighters killed in the line of duty during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem, Ore. Five Oregon fire fighters were added to the memorial and honored during the ceremony, including a member of the Oregon National Guard, Melvin Claude Richardson, who was killed while fighting the McKenzie Bridge fire that burned more than 2,500 acres of the Willamette National Forest in 1935. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
More photos from the ceremony are posted on Flickr:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

KISS raises $1.15 million for Oregon Military Museum at All-Star Salute event

Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer perform at an event to raise money for the Oregon Military Museum. (Photo by David A. Barss)
Gene Simmons with Dan Dutton, Chairman and CEO of Stimson Lumber at an event to raise money for the Oregon Military Museum. (Photo by David A. Barss)

Editorial submission by Historical Outreach Foundation (HOF)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. - On a picture-perfect evening in Lake Oswego, Sept. 14, at the private island estate of Rick and Erika Miller, members of the legendary rock band KISS played an all-acoustic set for a small group of guests at this year's All-Star Salute; making memories to last a lifetime and raising more than $1.15 million dollars for the Brigadier General James B. Thayer Oregon Military Museum.

Band members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer arrived at the intimate gathering following a national tour where they played to more than 600,000 fans in more than 42 shows. Sunday's audience was just under 200 in number.

Tommy Thayer, lead guitarist for KISS and son of Brig. Gen. James B. Thayer, has been involved with the Oregon Military Museum for several years, and is committed to honoring those who have served in the military. With all four KISS members in attendance, the event was unique in its size, setting, and the goal-exceeding $1.15 million it raised for the cause.

News anchor Steve Dunn of KATU emceed the program and introduced guest performers including The Patrick Lamb Trio, Julianne Johnson and Jean Pierre-Garau.

For Tommy, the museum named for his father holds a very personal connection. He is quick to express his gratitude and respect for members of the military who have served, and the heroes who have risked their lives for others.

"I've been blessed to live in this country and have the opportunity to do what I love and follow my passion for music," said Thayer. "None of it would be possible without people like my dad, and so many other veterans, who have bravely fought to protect our liberties and freedoms."

Alisha Hamel, as the executive director for the Historical Outreach Foundation, is charged with supporting the fundraising efforts for the Oregon Military Museum, and other educational initiatives including the Oregon WWII Memorial and the Veterans' Legacies Project. She has been involved in each phase of the museum project, and is an integral part in the development of the educational aspects of the museum. An educator, historian, and veteran of Desert Storm, Hamel brings a valuable perspective on Oregon's, and the country's, rich military history.

"The funds raised at this year's All-Star Salute will jump start the process of creating truly interactive, hands-on exhibits at the museum," said Hamel. " We know that the best way to teach history is to engage people in the learning experience."

The Oregon Military Museum, now under construction at Camp Withycombe, in Clackamas, is the largest initiative underway at the Historical Outreach Foundation, and Sunday's All-Star Salute was the largest single fundraiser in the history of the museum. The proceeds put the museum over the halfway mark on a $14.6 million project.

"We are incredibly grateful to KISS and to the Millers for creating this once-in-a-lifetime event." said Hamel. "This was beyond anything we could have imagined, and is an evening we will not soon forget."

Monday, September 15, 2014

1-186th Infantry Battalion wraps up training, prepares to depart for Afghanistan

Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, train with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Capt. James Ball, commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas – Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment, headquartered out of Ashland, Ore., are wrapping-up their training at Fort Hood, Texas, and getting ready to depart for Afghanistan this month in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The Soldiers have spent the last two months training for their mission and say they’re getting excited to move forward and take the next step. While many Soldiers are looking forward to the mission, others are simply excited to get out of the central-Texas heat and into the relatively cooler weather in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The training has been exceptionally relevant to the mission in Afghanistan. Soldiers have learned how to fire nearly every small arms weapon system in the Army inventory, from the 9mm pistol to the .50 caliber machine gun. Another crucial training event was the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) training where Soldiers learned to recognize and react to IEDs.

In early August, a group from United States Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) office visited the Soldiers during their training in Texas. The senator’s aides were given the opportunity to try on body armor and shoot an M4 rifle with the Soldiers on a marksmanship training range. It was a brand new experience for one of the aides who had never fired a gun in his life. 

The Soldiers based in Ashland have mostly administrative jobs and they say one of the challenges has been getting used to a seven-day work week schedule. “Things are a little bit slower on Saturday and Sunday, but it’s definitely a mental hurdle when you realize that the weekend is just another day at work,” one Soldier shared.

Another highlight from the training was our battalion’s “Staff Ride”. The leadership of the battalion took a trip to a historical site for professional development and a day away from training. This year’s “Staff Ride” was to The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, which is only about 200 miles from Fort Hood. Once we reached The Alamo, we analyzed the battle using modern warfighting principles and tactics, and discussed the strengths and weaknesses from both the offensive and defensive point of view.

Whatever your views on the war in Afghanistan, it’s important to remember that these Soldiers are answering the nation’s call and selflessly serving the United States. All of these Southern Oregon Soldiers are leaving families and jobs behind for nearly a year of military service. While nine months may not be an eternity, many Soldiers will miss important milestones in the lives of their family which they will never get back.

Thank you for your continued support of our Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers!

Alpha Company hones their skills with vehicles and weapon systems:

Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, train with Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at Fort Hood, Texas, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, unit public affairs representative for 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, based out of Medford, Ore., conducted mobilization training and evaluations at Fort Hood, Texas, prior to their departure for Afghanistan. The major tasks during these few weeks culminated into qualifications for the crews on mounted gunnery.

The different stages for qualifying a unit can be very arduous, resulting in long hours in the heat and humidity of Texas, testing Soldiers’ physical fitness, discipline and military bearing.

The qualification process started with getting Soldiers qualified to drive the different vehicles they will be utilizing during their deployment. Those vehicles are the MAXXPRO and MATV, two vehicles belonging to the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) family of military vehicles.

The next step was for the Soldiers to qualify on the weapons systems they are assigned. The Soldiers spent almost a week on different ranges training on their marksmanship abilities, ranging from their individual weapons to crew served machine guns. The next stage involved the crews moving through several scenarios, engaging a series of targets being graded on time, accuracy and correctness of commands.

Once the individual crews were qualified on gunnery, the next task was to conduct a Convoy Live Fire patrol. This exercise was comprised of several vehicle crews, which moved along a route and encountered scenarios to test their ability to react to the different situations in a timely, organized and effective manner. The crews spotted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and reacted to a simulated explosion and small arms fire. The crews became more proficient and confident in their abilities to coordinate fires safely and effectively with those units beside them.

This sort of task is important for the unit because it familiarizes them with the vehicle and weapons systems that will be essential tools for them during their time in Afghanistan. It also hones their ability to work as a team.

With each individual position having their own certain responsibilities in the crew, the communication between Soldiers must be sharpened for them to be a potent fighting machine. This is just one of the many skill sets Soldiers in the unit are acquiring in order to enhance their survivability when they head downrange.

Charlie Company overcomes obstacles:

An Oregon Army National Guard Soldier of Charlie Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, navigates a Leaders' Reaction Course at Fort Hood, Texas, during pre-deployment training in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. The course featured a series of obstacles and practical exercises in problem solving to test the teamwork and leadership capacity of the Soldiers. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, unit public affairs representative for 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, based out of Roseburg, Ore., have been training hard at Fort Hood, Texas, and are getting ready to depart for Afghanistan, where they will spend approximately nine months.

Fort Hood featured training facilities to help the Soldiers prepare for their upcoming deployment, including pop-up target firing ranges for all types of weapon systems. The weather was hot and humid, with temperatures over 100 degrees most days, but the Oregon Soldiers say their morale is high and they are happy to be training.

Recent training included a Leaders’ Reaction Course. The course featured a series of obstacles and practical exercises in problem solving to test the teamwork and leadership capacity of Charlie Company’s Soldiers. The Soldiers competed for the fastest and most effective completion of the course, despite the challenging tasks and the hot weather conditions.

Charlie Company also conducted a road march to the bayonet assault course. While bayonets aren’t thought of as the most commonly used weapon system in modern warfare, the course provided an opportunity to blow off some steam for the Soldiers. Spc. Karl Henderson made use of skills acquired in his civilian job as a knife sensei to instruct Soldiers on how to disarm an attacker.

Oregon’s Citizen-Soldiers say they are training and working hard, and awaiting the upcoming deployment.

Delta Company is ready to take on their mission:

Members of Delta Company, 1-186th Infantry Battalion, pose for a group photo prior to departing Fort Hood, Texas on their way to Afghanistan. (Photos courtesy Sgt. Daniel Hutchison, 1-186th Inf. Bn.)

Editorial submission by Oregon Army National Guard Capt. Jered Carpenter, commander of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment.

Dear friends and family,

We began our training as a consolidated forward deploying unit in April 2014, and we have been training on a full-time basis since the middle of June.  As we close out the training phase of our deployment, I am confident that we have become a cohesive team that is ready to adapt to the many challenges that lie ahead.  We are now transitioning into the theatre of operations in Afghanistan and all of the Soldiers that I have spoken with are excited to begin the next chapter of their journey.

Throughout our first few weeks at Fort Hood, Texas, the active duty unit responsible for conducting our training was pleased with the amount of training that we had already completed.  As a result, we found ourselves in a situation where we were planning training to fill in down time.  Some of the training events that we conducted during our first month in Texas included in-processing, additional rifle and machine gun training ranges, convoy simulator training, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle training, squad level obstacle courses, and land navigation.  

By the time we moved into the second month of training at Fort Hood, the pace picked up slightly and the unit completed training events.  These events included combat patrols on MRAPs with an emphasis on detecting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), machine gun and maneuver training from MRAP vehicles, and finally a culminating training exercise.  Delta Company had the highest scores and brought home the “Top Gun” honors during the mounted gunnery training exercise.  Mounted Gunnery is a timed event where a gunner fires at targets with a machine gun from an armored vehicle (MRAP in our case) while stationary and on the move.

The five-day culminating training exercise was our final training event, which allowed us an opportunity to conduct a “dress rehearsal” for our Afghanistan mission.  During this exercise we provided security for a small base, conducted combat patrols, practiced personnel searches and responded to simulated attack scenarios.  This exercise allowed us to operate on a 24-hour basis and refine our tactics and techniques prior to entering the combat theatre.

Throughout the course of our training, Delta Company placed a great deal of emphasis on Physical Training (PT).  Delta Company Soldiers did physical fitness training twice per day, six days per week.  A typical day would include company or platoon-led PT in the morning, followed by scheduled training, and finally an evening work-out at the gym.  Our schedule has been relatively conducive to maintaining a regular PT program and the results have been outstanding.  The unit conducted a diagnostic physical fitness test in the early part of June and the company average was 213 out of a possible 300 points.  By the time a second test was conducted at the beginning of September, the company average had risen to 263, an outstanding score for any active duty unit in the United States Army.  Many Soldiers have lost an average of about eight pounds.

We now enter the country of Afghanistan fully prepared, both physically and mentally, to execute our assigned mission.  We enter Afghanistan in a time of transition and uncertainty, and we must remain flexible as our mission requirements are subject to change.  We must also maintain positive attitudes as times of austerity await our Soldiers, who will be living in one of the most remote regions of the world.  We are an experienced unit however, with more than 60 percent of our Soldiers having previously deployed before.  I am fully confident that we will execute our mission to the highest standard and uphold the great reputation that Oregon National Guard Soldiers have established over the last 13 years.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Oregon National Guard wraps up a busy week, busy summer

SALEM, Oregon — The Oregon National Guard finished out a busy summer with accolades and a high-profile visit from representatives of the Vietnam National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM).

A delegation from the Vietnam National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM), visited Oregon National Guard facilities throughout the state, with a focus on the state’s domestic emergency response mission. Monday kicked off with a visit to the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing in Portland, Oregon, and concluded with a visit to Camp Rilea, where delegates observed a domestic response evaluation exercise by the Oregon National Guard’s CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP).

Oregon Army National Guard Capt. Thanh Vo (far left), Search and Extraction Commander for Oregon's CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), briefs a delegation from Vietnam's National Committee for Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM) during a tour of the unit's annual certification training exercise, Aug. 25, at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore. The delegation visited Oregon National Guard facilities throughout the state to gain an understanding of Oregon's emergency and disaster response preparedness in conjunction with the State Partnership Program. The Oregon National Guard is partnered with both Bangladesh and Vietnam's VINASARCOM through its State Partnership Program. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class April Davis, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

The delegates would go on to visit the Joint Operations Center and Oregon Office of Emergency Management in Salem, Oregon, and the Portland Office of Emergency Management in Portland, Oregon. The visit was in conjunction with the Oregon National Guard’s ongoing State Partnership Program. Oregon is also partnered with the country of Bangladesh.

The last week of August saw Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen Airmen of the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) participating in an evaluation exercise, Aug. 25-28, at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore. Inspectors from the National Guard Bureau, subject matter experts, and Joint Interagency Training and Education Center (JITEC), rated the Oregon National Guard’s CERFP unit one of “the best in the nation,” following a week-long exercise which culminated in an inspection on Aug. 28. Results from the inspection are due out later this fall.

--> A search and extraction team carries a victim away from a five-story tower in the state’s newest “rubble pile” during a week-long evaluation exercise for the Oregon National Guard’s CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), held at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., Aug. 27. Approximately 200 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen participated in the exercise, practicing incident site search and rescue, medical triage, and decontamination. Earlier this year, the unit worked alongside the Hawaii National Guard CERFP during the Vigilant Guard Exercise held in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

An Oregon National Guard team participated in the annual 197-mile Hood to Coast relay race, which starts at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, and ends on the beach at Seaside, Ore. The annual event draws competitive teams from across the country. Proceeds from this year’s event went to the Providence Cancer Research Center.

--> The Oregon National Guard Hood to Coast team finishes the 197-mile course at Seaside, Ore., the last week of August, 2014. Proceeds from the annual race, which starts at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, and ends at the Broadway Avenue turnaround in Seaside, go to various charities in the region. Photo courtesy of the Oregon National Guard.

Oregon Symphony concert-goers at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, Oregon, were given a special treat when the Oregon Symphony concluded Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with real cannons! Citizen-Soldiers of the 2-218th Field Artillery Battalion fired 105mm Howitzers as the grand finale to the concert. The free event, in its 18th year, also hosted classical music selections played by the Oregon National Guard’s 234 Army Band, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Hillsboro Mariachi Una Voz, BRAVO Youth Orchestra, Portland Youth Philharmonic, the Portland Taiko Drum troop, and the Oregon Symphony, featuring performances by the Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theater.  The event also featured a live fireworks display.

--> Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with the 2-218 Field Artillery Battalion, fire a volley using 105mm Howitzer cannons, during the playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, during the Oregon Symphony’s Waterfront Concert, held Aug. 28 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, Ore. The annual event also featured the Oregon National Guard’s 234 Army Band, and several other local classical performers. Photo by Spc. Matthew Burnett, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Earlier this summer, the Oregon National Guard wished Citizen-Soldiers a farewell, as they mobilized for duty in Afghanistan.  Members of units from the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team held separate mobilization ceremonies throughout the state, as family, friends, community members and Oregon National Guard leadership attended the events. The 234th Engineer Company also mobilized for duty in Kuwait.

--> Oregon Army National Guard Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry, of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, stand in formation during the unit’s mobilization ceremony, held July 18, at the McNeal Pavilion, Southern Oregon University, in Ashland, Ore. The unit is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan to provide security missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit is commanded by Lt. Col. Noel Hoback and Command Sgt. Maj. Brad Huppunen. Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

Citizen Soldiers from various Oregon Army National Guard units participated in their annual training event, held in June, at the Yakima Training Center in Yakima, Washington. Soldiers from the 2-218th Field Artillery Battalion, 162nd Engineer Company, 141st Brigade Support Battalion and other elements within the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 1249th Engineer Battalion converged on the training site to conduct live-fire exercises, and practice what Command Sergeant Major Michael R. Polley, 1249th Engineer Battalion Command Sergeant Major, called a “culmination of a year’s worth of training.”

--> Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Cody Shepherd (left), and Private 1st Class Jordan Pena (right), both of Alpha Battery, 2-218 Field Artillery, fire a 105mm round during their unit’s annual training at Yakima Training Center, Wash., June 23.  Shepherd, from Milwaukie, Ore. Shepherd, who is from Milwaukie, Ore., and Pena, of Portland, Ore., are joined on their gun crew by Gun Crew Section Chief Staff Sgt. Jonathan Stocker; Ammunition Team Chief, Sgt. David Tully of Gresham, Ore.; Assistant Gunner, Private 1st Class Jordan Pena of Portland, Ore.; and Gunner Spc. William McKnight.  McKnight completed the Oregon National Guard’s Air Assault Course—an intensive week-long competition which challenges Oregon’s best of the best in air assault operations, sling-load operations, and rappelling, enabling participants to perform skills required to make maximum use of helicopter assets in training and in combat to support their unit operations. Photo by Master Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office.

In two separate large-scale fires in Oregon, aviation assets including CH-47 Chinook, HH-60 Blackhawk, and UH-72 Lakota helicopters, were brought to the fight during what forest fire managers called one of the worst fire seasons in Oregon in recent history. Some of the more serious fires occurred near Grants Pass and Ashland, Oregon.  

--> An Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter drops water on a fire in support of fire suppression efforts at the Logging Unit fire west of Madras, Ore., July 20. The "Bambi" bucket used on the Chinook helicopters can carry up to 1,500 gallons of water. Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters of the Oregon Army National Guard arrived at the Madras Airport, July 19, to assist local authorities in suppressing the wildfire west of Madras, Ore. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason van Mourik, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs.

Once again, Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen of the Oregon National Guard served and sacrificed in their communities, state, nation, and around the globe - proving once again the National Guard mantra, “When we are needed, We are there!”

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DoD JAG guidance: Endorsement of "Ice-Bucket Challenge" not allowed under regulations

Above: Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson, right, leads some 200 people in the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 to raise funds and awareness for ALS.

We have all seen the videos and photos--a person takes a bucket of ice water, and dumps it over their head. The act is followed by much cheering and fanfare.

Most of these challenges are meant to raise awareness for a worthy cause. This, along with what appears to be an online fad that is growing in popularity may motivate many service members to participate.

According to Art Kaff, Administrative Law Division of the Office of The Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army Headquarters, however well-intentioned this participation may appear, it is an impermissible endorsement of a non-federal entity.

The Standards of Conduct and the Joint Ethics Regulation (JER) are clear concerning such activities.  An officer or employee may not use his or her government position or title or any authority associated with his or her public office in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that the government sanctions or endorses the employee's personal activities or those of another.  5 CFR 2635.702(b).

An employee is also prohibited from using or permitting the use of his or her government position or title or any authority associated with his or her public office to endorse any product, service or enterprise.  5 CFR 2635.702(c); JER 3-209.

An employee may only engage in the raising of funds for a nonprofit organization in an official capacity where the employee is authorized to engage in the fundraising activity as part of his or her official duties.  5 CFR 2635.808.  The JER, at paragraph 3-210, makes it clear that (with very limited exceptions) DoD employees shall not officially endorse or appear to endorse membership drives or fundraising for any non-federal entity.

Fundraising done by government employees in their personal capacities should not use official time, resources or personnel in connection with the activity, nor should the individual's official title, authority or command be invoked in connection with the personal fundraising efforts.  In addition, employees engaged in personal fundraising may not personally solicit funds from a subordinate or from any other person known to the employee to be a prohibited source.  5 CFR 2635.808(c); JER 3-300.

The bottom line for full-time AGR or Title-10 Oregon National Guard members is to steer clear of these kinds of endorsements. M-Day or Drill Status Guardsmen should be okay, as long as they conduct these kinds of activities in a purely civilian status, without any references or representation to their National Guard affiliation. However, just to be safe, it is always best for everyone to seek guidance from their chain of command and/or direct supervisor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Owen Summers: Father of the Oregon National Guard

Photo credit: Mike Francis, Oregonian

Owen Summers is more than just a photo on the wall as you enter the headquarters for the Oregon National Guard.

Owen Summers was born in Brockville, Canada, on June 13, 1850. At the age of two, his parents, John and Elizabeth Ann Summers moved the family to Chicago, Ill., where his father worked as a cobbler. Five years later, Owen and four siblings were left as orphans after his parents and a younger sister died during the cholera epidemic.

Six year old Owen was taken to a farm near Frankfort, Ill., and spent most of his youth working on the farm in exchange for room and board. He attended a small schoolhouse in La Center, Lee County, Ill.

At the age of 12, Owen and three of his schoolmates tried to enlist in the Army to join the ranks of those fighting in the Civil War, but were refused by recruiting officers because they were too young. Undeterred, Owen tried unsuccessfully twice more. On his fourth attempt to enlist in 1865, he garnered the help of a Pennsylvania Dutchman, who consented to become his guardian. With the permission of this man, the examining Army surgeon granted his acceptance into the United States Army. He was barely 14 years old.

On February 1, 1865, Owen joined Company H, Third Illinois Cavalry. He served in the eastern part of Mississippi, and later in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. Following the close of the war, his unit was ordered to St. Louis, Mo., and fought against the Sioux Indians in Minnesota and the Dakotas before being mustered out of the service on Dec. 11, 1865.

In January, 1875, he headed west, taking odd jobs and bouncing back and forth between San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland. He eventually settled in Portland, Ore., where he and his brother-in-law, J.C. Olds, founded a crockery and glassware business known as Olds & Summers. The company occupied a building at No. 183 First Street in downtown Portland.

After several set-backs, including a fire which destroyed their building and inventory in 1886, Owen persisted in his business endeavors, becoming a force in the local trade, becoming a well respected, and prominent merchant in the Portland business community.

During this time, Owen had been appointed to the state legislature as the United States Appraiser of the port of Portland. He worked closely with the Oregon delegation and the general assembly on the passage of a bill which resulted in the creation of a militia for the state of Oregon. The bill allowed for the reestablishment of a State Adjutant General, and three regiments and a company of Veteran Guards, composed of ex-members of Civil War regiments—of which he was chosen as first lieutenant.

According to the new law, which came to be known as the “Summers Law,” Oregon’s militia was authorized a minimum strength of 1,320 men in one battalion and each of its three regiments. Furthermore, Summers oversaw the outfitting of the units, and the creation of an efficient, disciplined force.

In 1887, the militia was reorganized into the Oregon National Guard, and Owen was elected as lieutenant colonel of the First Regiment. Seven years later, he was promoted to the rank of colonel.

At the opening of the Spanish-American War, all National Guard troops were ordered to Portland and consolidated into the Second Oregon Regiment of the United States Volunteers. Colonel Summers was named as commander of this new group, and on May 24, 1898, the regiment sailed to the Philippines. The unit was the first military unit to leave the continental United States, and along with the First California and five companies of the 14th U.S. Infantry, were the first to arrive in a foreign country during the war. The men under Summers found him kindly, considerate and helpful.

Col. Summers’ unit was involved in several battles, including the advance on Guadalupe, the battle of Malabon, and the liberation of Manila. Among the many telegraphs Col. Summers received, the following is said to be his most prized:

Manila, P.I., August 30, 1898

Col. O. Summers, Commander, 2d Oregon U.S.V.:

Sir: I desire to express to you in very strong terms my appreciate of the manner in which you and your regiment performed the very difficult and delicate duties of acting provost marshal and provost guard during the time immediately following the capitulation of Manila. It gives me much pride and pleasure on the eve of my departure to recall the way in which I have been supported by all of my troops, and the cheerful fortitude with which they have endured the hardships of the campaign.

Very respectfully,
Wesley Merritt,
Major General, U.S.A.

In 1899, just before his regiment returned to Oregon, Col. Summers was recommended for promotion to the rank of brigadier general. Then, on Sept. 1, 1899, Summers was reappointed as the United States appraiser by the President in Portland, Ore. He shortly began re-immersing himself in the business community, founding Summers & Prail Crockery Company—a company he sold shortly thereafter.

On July 23, 1880, Summers married Clara T. Olds, a native of Oregon, and sister to his old business partner, J.C. Olds. The two had only one child, Owen George.

In his later years, Summers became active in civic and social circles. He joined the Commercial Club, Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He also became a Mason, and was a charter member of Columbia Lodge No. 114.

Summers died of pneumonia in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 2, 1911. He was 60. He is buried in River View Cemetery in Portland, Ore.

The title of “Father of the Oregon National Guard” is appropriate, given Summers’ accomplishments throughout his life. The legacy Summers created lives on in the evolution of the 2d Oregon Regiment to what we know today as the 2nd Infantry, 162nd Battalion, also earning him the title of “Oregon’s First Volunteer”.

Moreover, his effort to create Oregon’s militia lives on in today’s Oregon National Guard. Summer’s example of citizen-soldier, model businessman, and successful statesman, is a proud heritage to which all Oregonians can aspire.

Information for this post resourced from Oregon State Defense Force History website, Ancestry.com, and Ask.com.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oregon Army Guard Aeromedical Nurse Practitioner honored with national award

SALEM, Ore.—Oregon Army National Guard Capt. Sarah Wickenhagen, a physician’s assistant and Aeromedical Nurse Practitioner with the Oregon National Guard’s Medical Command, based in Salem, has recently been named by the American Association ofNurse Practitioners (AANP) as one of the recipients of their prestigious State Award for Excellence for 2014.

Wickenhagen, FNP, DNP, is also a policy analyst for the Oregon State Board of Nursing. She and other nurse practitioners and advocates will be honored at an awards ceremony and reception held during the AANP 2014 National Conference June 17-22, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn. 

The State Award for Nurse PractitionerExcellence, founded in 1991, recognizes a nurse practitioner (NP) in a state who demonstrates excellence in practice.  In 1993, the State Award for Nurse Practitioner Advocate was added to recognize the efforts of individuals who have made a significant contribution toward increasing the awareness and acceptance of the NP.

Prior to joining the Board of Nursing in March, Wickenhagen worked in the Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing teaching in the graduate nursing programs and working clinically in Pre-Operative Medicine.  She has a varied background that includes serving as an Army Nurse and caring for patients across the lifespan in both primary and acute care settings.  She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1996 from the University of Mobile, located in Mobile, Ala., and her Masters of Science and Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from OHSU in 2005 and 2013, respectively.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband who is an Army helicopter pilot and her two children.

The AANP is the largest professional membership organization for NPs of all specialties.  It represents the interests of the nation's 189,000 NPs, including more than 50,000 members, providing a unified networking platform, and advocating for their role as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered, and personalized health care.

CONGRATS to Capt. Wickenhagen!

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don't eat the Marshmallow

There was a famous experiment done by Stanford University child psychologists in the 1970s where four-year olds are placed in a room with a single marshmallow. They are told that if they can last fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow they will earn a second one.

Most of the kids fail, many in under four minutes, but 1/3 of them succeed. This ability to delay instant gratification is correlated with generally greater success. At first glance it makes sense, we all know the story of the grasshopper and the cricket.  But why were some kids able to do this task while others couldn’t? 

In thinking about this experiment, we sometimes focus on how many of the kids struggle under the temptation of the marshmallow before them.

A slightly different, and in my opinion, a key view, is that the successful kids weren’t suffering without the present marshmallow, they were suffering for the future marshmallow. Bottom line: their focus is different.

Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

Our military training, our missions, routinely call for difficult actions now for a better future.

There are a variety of skills available to ‘not eat the marshmallow’, many of which are components of the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) program, such as PIIP, Energy Management, Detect Icebergs, and more.

Ask your unit Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) on how to incorporate this into your training plan.

Staff Sgt. Eddie Black,
Resilience Program Coordinator,
Oregon National Guard

Monday, March 10, 2014

Senate Bill allows for community college credits to be awarded for military training and education

In 2011, the Oregon Legislature unanimously passed Senate Bill 275, which requires local community college boards, in consultation with the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA), to develop standards for community colleges to award credits for education and training obtained by individuals who served in the Armed Forces.

The bill was sent to then Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, who signed it into law on June 14, 2011.

The legislation also requires learning institutions to inform interested persons the opportunity to receive this credit for their military training and professional military education.

Senate Bill 275 does not guarantee that colleges will award college credit based on military training, but it simply requires community colleges to develop a standard by which they will award credit.

Local Oregon community colleges are familiar with the deployments Oregon has experienced, and are committed to helping the large number of Oregon military members who pursue post-secondary education during their deployments and after their return home, said Krissa Caldwell, Deputy Commissioner for Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development.

“This bill is about helping Oregon’s veterans transfer their military acquired knowledge and skills to civilian life and careers,” she said.

Coupled with the complications of multiple deployments, the way students pursue their education has prompted colleges to adjust their practices of recognizing and awarding credits, she added.

The Joint Services Transcript (JST) is the military transcript that lists the recommended college credits based on military training.  The JST replaced the Coast Guard Institute Transcript, the Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS) and the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART).

JST is an academically accepted document approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) to validate a Service Member's military occupational experience and training along with the corresponding ACE college credit recommendations.  The official military transcript can be requested through the JST website at https://jst.doded.mil.

Due to concerns with college accreditation, colleges want to ensure that students receive the entire course of training within their degree program and that credits are not awarded for training that does not fulfill the all course objectives.  Many colleges will award one to three physical education (PE) credits, but any other courses often require additional documentation to substantiate equivalency between college and military course objectives.

“There is a shared concern to work with veterans to help them jump-start civilian education and training,” Caldwell said. “Oregon’s community colleges stand ready to continue to help veterans pursue post-secondary education as they return from active duty around the world.”

For more information on this bill, or to read the various committee meeting minutes, visit http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/SB275/.