Showing posts with label Oregon National Guard Armory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oregon National Guard Armory. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deployed Oregon soldier uses laughs, magic tricks for international relations

Chief Warrant Officer William “Scott” Anderson, a Canby, Ore., resident and medevac pilot for 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, prepares an illusion during his magic show for Task Force Double Eagle at Joint Base Balad, Oct. 31.

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Often National Guard Soldiers apply their civilian training to enhance their military deployments.

A Soldier in Task Force 38’s MEDEVAC unit, Company C, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment did just that during his mobilization here.

When the Canby, Ore., resident was not using his military skills as a medevac pilot for Company C to help people receive medical attention during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Chief Warrant Officer William S. “Scott” Anderson applied his civilian skills as a magician to help people in a different way.

Anderson used illusions mixed with comedy to provide an escape from deployment life and entertain fellow service members, civilian contractors and local Iraqis.

“He’s professional when he needs to be, but he can lighten the mood when it’s needed,” added Sgt. John McCully, a MEDEVAC crew chief and Camas, Ore., resident.

In his free time, Anderson performed frequent shows at the medevac company’s coffee shop, during holidays and at unit events. He also participated in, and won, Joint Base Balad’s October talent show.

“He has helped the moral of the company,” said McCully. “Whenever we have events, at work, pretty much whenever he’s around, the guy has a gimmick up his sleeve. He loves entertaining people.”

Anderson’s illusions ranged anywhere from impromptu card tricks for friends, pulling a participant’s previously signed dollar out of an uncut lemon randomly chosen by that participant, to transforming handkerchiefs into candy for Iraqi children.

Anderson also used his magic and comedy as a way of breaking the ice with new people around JBB and forming relationships with Iraqis.

“He is good at building relationships with people,” said Sgt. Candice Westlund, Corvallis, Ore. resident.

Anderson worked through translators to perform shows for groups of Iraqi children during base-hosted events and completed illusions for the Iraqi special weapons and tactics officers. He also worked with parents to entertain children under care of the hospital here.

“His tricks make kids smile and forget that they are in pain or injured,” said Westlund.

Deployed Oregon Magician Brings Laughter, Entertainment to Iraq

While entertaining others and helping them through the deployment, Anderson said his magic provided an outlet for him.

“It’s a piece of home I got to bring with me,” he said. “It’s something I can do that’s fun, and it is good for stress.”

Anderson has been a performance magician since 1999. He started entertaining elementary kids at Fort Lewis, Wash., during drug abuse resistance education he taught by using illusions he learned from a friend. From there, he expanded his audience to birthday parties, state fair goers and stage acts including large scale illusions.

“The better I got, the more shows I could get,” Anderson said. “I was doing side jobs at nights and on weekends.”

When he deployed to Afghanistan, Anderson continued his magic shows to entertain Soldiers and Afghanis. He continued to develop his shows by incorporating personal experiences from his deployment, and then used those experiences to once again entertain Soldiers and Iraqis during his latest deployment.

While magic proved beneficial during times overseas, it was those same deployments and experiences that proved beneficial to Anderson’s magic career.

“After being here and performing for Iraqi kids, I came up with a kids’ show to do back home,” said Anderson. “It teaches kids lessons in patriotism: what it means, freedom, taking pride in your country, celebrating diversity and patriotic symbols.”

Working under the name of “Sgt. Stripes,” Anderson is scheduled to perform his show, “The Magic of Patriotism,” when he returns home for Oregon students enrolled in reading programs.

He also plans to continue performing as a magician for larger audiences after the OIF deployment. In his free time, Anderson worked on his newest show, “The Magician Expeditions,” a biographical theater magic show based on his deployment interactions and experiences.

More about information about Anderson and his shows can be found at

Story by Spc. Beth Gorenc, Task Force 38 Public Affairs

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oregon National Guard Adjutant General responds to negative editorial

On Oct. 17, the Mail Tribune published an editorial entitled, "Guard Policy Bewildering: How can a food bank to benefit soldiers' families be inappropriate for an armory?"

The editorial begins, "It's a decision so bewildering it almost takes your breath away: The Oregon National Guard has ordered local residents to close a food bank at the Merlin National Guard Armory."

To read the rest of the editorial, please visit the Mail Tribune website, here.

The following letter to the editor, written in response to the above editorial, by Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, the Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, has been sent to Mr. Dennis Roler of the Grants Pass Daily Courier.

Dear Dennis Roler,

On Oct. 17, 2009, the Grants Pass Courier published an editorial titled, "Guard Policy Bewildering: How can a food bank to benefit soldiers' families be inappropriate for an armory?"

As leaders of the Oregon National Guard, we can tell you that as an organization, we are extremely grateful for any effort supporting our soldiers, airmen and their families. Anytime our communities are willing to "step up" for Guard members, we are always filled with pride and appreciation.

The National Guard/Militia is rooted in our state and national constitutions. At our foundation the Guard is comprised of citizen-soldiers. We are intertwined with our communities--we are your friends as well as your neighbors. We live, work, play and pray in our towns and cities in this great state we call home. We are not separate and distinct from these communities, but a part thereof.

We have spoken with leaders at the Josephine County Food Bank and they have assured us they have an effective and robust system in place to assist those in need.

The issue of the Food Bank at the Grants Pass Armory is disturbing on several levels. First, it is regrettable that the difficult economic times we live in are forcing proud, hardworking members of our communities to seek additional food assistance, but as stated earlier, we are a cross section of our communities, so no doubt we have Guard families in need.

Second, we have been made aware of the Josephine County Food Bank, which is willing to assist all the community when needed and is noted as one of the best food bank systems in Oregon. Why would it be necessary to set up a parallel system when less than a mile away from our Armory there is a food pantry?

We are not against the support being generated through the food bank at the local National Guard Armory. We believe these resources would be better utilized assisting the effective system already set in placed by Josephine County.

As our deployments have increased over the last five or six years, we have seen the creation of food donation drives through many well-meaning citizens and organizations.

Unfortunately, it has often created confusion among unit members as well as their families. We have concluded it is better for those needy families to use existing support networks throughout Oregon. Further, this is in line with National Guard Bureau Policy.

The Oregon National Guard has an extensive support network. Our Family Program has full-time staff and volunteers across the state to connect those in need to a wide variety of services.

In addition, the Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund is easily accessible and generously supported through donations and state appropriations. National Guard families in need may contact: Barbara McClenathan, Battalion Family Programs Coordinator, (541) 892-4146; Staff Sgt. Richard Wirfs, Emergency Relief Fund, (503) 584-3989; or Maj. Darren Hoschouer, Senior Full-Time Officer in Southern Oregon, (541) 482-4414.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of our fellow friends and neighbors who support the Oregon National Guard. We encourage local organizations to redirect their efforts in assisting the Josephine County Food Bank.

When we are needed, we are there. Thank you to the community of Josephine County for doing the same for our citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen.


Major General
The Adjutant General