News: Oregon Guard gives back to patriotic Burns-Hines community
Story by: 2nd Lt. Candace Westlund
1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment
BURNS, Ore. - Soldiers from Delta company of the 141st Brigade Support Battalion based out of Burns, Ore., a Forward Support Company for 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, provided community support in Burns and Hines on Saturday, June 24.
The Oregon National Guard soldiers engaged in projects throughout Burns and Hines during a day that culminated with a community barbecue at the Delta company detachment and community armory in Burns.
“The best part of being home after a 13 month rotation in Iraq is serving the communities of our great state of Oregon,” said Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Christopher Reese who returned from Iraq with around 2500 other Oregon soldiers in spring 2010. “They saved the city tens of thousands of dollars and the duties were all related to their skill sets.”
Soldiers were split into teams and tasked to different areas of the community to complete missions organized by Burns city manager, Don Munkers.
The major areas of concentration were the Burns Airport, Burns Cemetery, Harney County Historical Museum and the Harney Wildlife Parkway bordering the golf course in Hines.
“We are pretty isolated out here,” said Airport Manager Bryan Hutchison. “We jump at the opportunity to get some outside help.”
He said after previous major construction efforts at the airport, a team of soldiers assisted with the transportation of leftover materials and did some landscaping.
At the Harney County Historical Museum, soldiers assisted with moving heavy antique pianos between buildings and taking apart displays for relocation.
“It was great being able to give something back to the community,” said Spc. Anthony Van Batavia, a reserve police officer from Burns, Ore.
The park featured a small contingent of soldiers that cleared large amounts of sagebrush along the trail.
Hines Mayor Nikki Morgan and City Administrator Joan Davies worked with the soldiers refinishing a memorial bench overlooking the park.
“We don’t always have the manpower to get these things done,” Morgan said. “This saves money and time and we’re definitely getting a lot done today thanks to the help.
Throughout the day, soldiers and citizens mentioned the strong relationship their community has always had with their National Guard representatives.
“Everyone felt a sense of community and caretaking,” said Capt. April Lang, Delta company commander. “Given the opportunity, we would do this again.”
The cemetery was a multi-faceted effort, with soldiers working on edging grave sites, building a wall along the chapel, pulling sagebrush from the emergency vehicle access area, and re-plotting sites along the north end of the cemetery.
“We were bequeathed money for area beautification,” said Dan Hoke, city councilmember. “The timing of this is perfect—a lot of projects we have the soldiers working on are very difficult for us to get done because we don’t have enough manning.”
Many of the soldiers in Delta Company are from Burns and Hines who work in the community between drill weekends and deployments. Van Batavia and Spc. Jesse Gosnell from Burns, said they feel a bigger connection to where they serve because it is their hometown.
The opportunity gave soldiers in Delta Company the opportunity to give something back to community in an area they represent to the rest for the Oregon National Guard.
Delta Company 1st Sgt. David Hagen said, “It is quite an honor to see my soldiers work so hard for appreciative communities like Burns and Hines.”