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    Mobilizations and community response made 2022 a pivotal year for the Oregon National Guard

    Oregon National Guard Honors Veterans during 71st Annual Linn County Veterans Day Parade

    Photo By John Hughel | Oregon National Guard Brig. Gen. Mark Crosby, Assistant Adjutant General for Air...... read more read more



    Story by John Hughel 

    Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

    SALEM, Ore. - For nearly three years, Oregon National Guard members have been on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic, supporting their neighbors and nation. From testing sites to providing vaccines to thousands of Oregonians and other community missions throughout the state. This past year over 1,500 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen were assigned to Task Force Reassurance, which directed staffing assistance to nearly 50 hospitals around the state.

    As the largest domestic mobilization since World War II, the deployment was short-lived. By the end of December, the Omicron variant was surging cases around the nation. During a January 7 press conference, Governor Kate Brown announced the activation of 500 Guardsmen. “We are at another critical point in this pandemic — and the Oregon National Guard is stepping up again to assist.”

    When January began, the second mobilization of nearly 120 Oregon National Guard soldiers assigned to Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment deployed to Poland to support the European Deterrence Initiative, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. By month’s end, 130 members of Alpha Troop returned from Poland having been mobilized in April of 2021 as part of the same mission supporting NATO allies. Also deploying to Europe during the past year, nearly a dozen members of the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment were assigned to the United States European Command at Stuttgart, Germany, providing public affairs and media support throughout Europe during their nine-month assignment.

    With many of the pandemic protocol restrictions, travel changes allowed for in-person training once again with State Partnership Program host nations. In October of 2021, the 10th Annual Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange between the government of Bangladesh and the U.S. Army Pacific took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and focused on the dual disasters of earthquake management during a pandemic. Six months later in March, Oregon Guardsmen took part in “Tiger Lightning 2022,” a bilateral exercise sponsored by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and hosted by the Bangladesh Armed Forces. The training helped to strengthen Bangladesh's defense readiness and interoperability while reinforcing the partnership between the Bangladesh military and the Oregon State National Guard.

    Combined allied disaster training is a key component to working with Joint Partnership nations but the foundation for this groundwork stems from the frequent missions here in the U.S. Hundreds of Guardsmen took part in a large-scale multi-day exercise in mid-June at Camp Rilea, which brought together the 102nd CBRNE and Oregon National Guard CERFP. While these two field training exercises were taking place, members of the 173rd Fighter Wing took part in an earthquake and readiness tabletop exercise, which stimulated some of the expected chaos following a Cascadia Subduction Zone event. Guard members worked with state and federal agency partners, practicing emergency medical response, and rescue operations. The basis of this training is the hallmark of real-life emergency circumstances.

    After completing a day of small arms training, Airmen with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron were in a convoy heading to Gowen Field in Idaho on May 15 -- when an auto accident involving two motorcycles on Interstate 84 highway, unfolding in front of them. The extreme injuries required immediate medical attention and the Airmen provided on-the-spot first aid. Senior Master Sergeant Stephen Studenny, the 125th STS Senior enlisted leader proudly said, “You have over a combined century’s worth of combat experience with the medics that we had on the ground. If I’m ever in a situation that bad of trauma, those are the guys I want working on me.”

    As summer began the world turned its eyes to the World Athletics Champions, held at the historic and refurbished Hayward Field in Eugene. The Oregon National Guard’s 102nd Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team was called upon by the Eugene Police Department to provide 24-hour Hazard Assessment Team Operations for the 10-day event from June 15-24. This was the first time the World Champions meet have been held in the United States, as nearly 2,100 of the best Track and Field athletes from over 200 countries competed.

    After winning the Oregon Army National Guard Best Warrior Soldier competition in February, Specialist Wyatt Walls, assigned to HHB, 2nd Battalion, 218th Field Artillery advanced to the Region 6 Championships in May, held at Camp Guernsey JTC in Wyoming. Walls bested all contenders and moved on to the National Best Warrior Championships in Nashville, Tennessee from July 24-29. Then in late September and early October, Walls was selected as one of just five Army National Guard team members - from the 54 states and U.S. territories to compete in the U.S. Army’s Inaugural Best Squad Competition held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

    With a fitting conclusion to the fiscal year, Camp Umatilla has formally renamed the Rees Training Center on September 29, honoring retired Major General Raymond F. Rees, who served four terms as the Adjutant General of Oregon prior to his retirement in 2013. Returning home to Oregon, General Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau was the keynote speaker for the event. Hokanson, who served as the Adjutant General following Rees’s retirement described the impact his mentor had on so many, during his formal remarks. “I am merely one of the many countless soldiers and airmen he has influenced in his 60-year career,” he said.

    Throughout the year, the Oregon Guardsmen lived up to their motto of “Always ready, Always there,” when responding to wildland firefighting and Search and Rescue operations. At any given time, there is no shortage of incidents large or small when supporting the Oregonians' needs. SAR coordinator Scott Lucas said that “There’s some type of Search and Rescue operation in the state every single day. With so many remote wilderness areas, we typically have close to 1,100 missions a year.” In 2022, the Oregon Army National Guard flew 12 SAR Missions, primarily using UH-60M Blackhawks to recover severely injured patients. With all of the mobilizations, training exercises, and community response efforts, 2022 proved to be a pivotal year for the Oregon National Guard.



    Date Taken: 12.20.2022
    Date Posted: 12.20.2022 01:57
    Story ID: 434914
    Location: SALEM, OR, US

    Web Views: 167
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