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Posts made in: 'National Guard' (24) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 24

July 30, 2013 at 9:58am

Bird watching - OSC training at JBLM

Three Blackhawk helicopters approach a pick-up zone, or PZ, as National Guard Officer Candidate School selectees from 27 states wait to be airlifted to another training venue. Photo by J.M. Simpson

I like Blackhawks.

They produce a turbo-charged, earthshaking amount of lift when they take off.

While Warrior Forge draws to a close, 234 National Guard Officer School Candidates (OCS) selectees engage in an intensive 16-day training period before receiving their commissions as second lieutenants.

The 234 candidates came from 27 states west of the Mississippi River to complete the training they had begun at their home bases.

The 66th Theater Aviation Command of the Washington Army National Guard provided the airlift.

"The training has been great," Candidate Ryan Cash, a former sailor, said on Saturday afternoon as he prepared to board one of three Blackhawk helicopters for a 10-minute ride to the next training venue.

"Jumping on and flying in a Blackhawk is really great, and a nice touch for our training."

Moments later, Cash and ten other candidates moved toward a waiting Blackhawk.  They quickly boarded and strapped in.

The Blackhawk's power came up and grass, dust and noise followed the craft as it climbed into the blue sky.  

I like a bird like that.

>>> In the dust and heat of a makeshift pick-up zone at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, National Guard Officer Candidate School selectees load onto three Blackhawks during a training exercise. Photo by J.M. Simpson

>>> Two Blackhawk helicopters carrying National Guard Officer Candidate School selectees lift off in a whirlwind of dust, grass and noise. Photo by J.M. Simpson

June 5, 2013 at 7:55am

National Guard Region 10 Volunteer of the Year winner

Region 10 Volunteer of the Year award winner, Debra Grice shows off her awards with her husband during a senior leader’s strategic planning meeting on Camp Murray. Photo credit: Gary Lott

One of the most well-known supporters of the Washington National Guard, Debra Grice, was awarded the Region 10 Volunteer of the Year Award last week for her numerous volunteer efforts.

"She doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk," said Joint Services Support for the Washington National Guard Director Tom Riggs. "She provides a key link of support between our volunteers and our Guardsmen."

Grice's husband is part of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 81st Armor Brigade Combat Team on Camp Murray, and she has become instrumental in supporting him, his unit and the rest of the National Guard.

"I think it's important to have the support of the family when you have a Soldier who is involved," she said. "It is important to set a good example of what that support should look like."


April 23, 2011 at 6:15am

319th EOD works with counterparts in Kyrgyzstan

The 319th Explosive Ordinance Detachment, Washington Army National Guard recently completed another of their U.S. Army Central Command theater-wide missions in Kyrgyzstan. These missions highlight the evolution of the ever-changing threat environment encountered by the U.S. military overseas.  

People think of EOD in terms of the movie "The Hurt Locker" where high drama sells theater tickets but there is a more subtle side to being a bomb technician. One of EOD's many responsibilities is to combat the destruction caused by Improvised Explosive Devices by educating and cooperating with other EOD teams from different host nations.

 For five months the 319th has sent teams to interact with some of the 21 nations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. These teams have shared some of the lessons learned on the topics of IED awareness, safety, and how the U.S. Army responds to EOD incidents.

 The 319th has sent EOD teams to Lebanon, Jordan, and now to Kyrgyzstan, a nation which used to be a part of the now dissolved Soviet Union. In this former Soviet Bloc nation, 319th commander Capt. Alfred Johnson came face to face with past cold war enemies of the U.S. in order to promote peacekeeping and support for allied efforts against terrorism.

 "We were standing next to T-72 Tanks and Combat Reconnaissance Patrol Vehicles working with Russian speaking Kyrgyz dressed in US pattern uniforms," said Johnson.

 "It was a very surreal scene for anyone who grew up in the 80s and a sign of how much things have changed," Johnson said.

 But despite the former adversarial status, the Kyrgyz Army was very supportive and hospitable to the EOD team that visited from the U.S. This hospitality underscored the common bond between EOD personnel that extends across borders and is shared by those who take the "long walk" alone. 

 "Even though they speak Russian and have different equipment and training, there is a bond and understanding that develops between EOD techs due to the nature of the work, and the character of the person that is drawn to and successful at it," said Johnson. 

 "Our mission is one where we take the difficult lessons learned from our EOD Community, and share what we can with the other nations to help them become better prepared to protect innocent lives against the horrific results of IEDs," Johnson said. 

 "In addition, we assist them in preparing their own programs to run more efficiently and at the same time forge bonds of professional friendship that show the US in a good light to our neighbors in CENTCOM," he said.

 While this type of mission might not make a good script for a Hollywood blockbuster, it does support U.S. interests by promoting important long term regional goals. EOD cooperation benefits both the US and partner nations and will produce positive results in combating international terrorism that will last for years to come.

 The 319th EOD is attached to the 197th Fires Brigade as a part of Operation New Dawn.

Filed under: National Guard,

April 8, 2011 at 12:22pm

Camp Murray affected by government shutdown

This from the Washington National Guard Public Affairs: CAMP MURRAY, WA - The Washington National Guard is taking steps to ensure critical operations dedicated to serving our state and federal mission continue in the event of a funding gap caused by a government shutdown.   

Our citizen-soldiers and airmen are paid, trained and equipped through
federal appropriations.  A funding gap occurs when neither an appropriations
act, or a Continuing Resolution has been enacted.  

In preparation for this scenario, Guard personnel essential to the
war-fight, and the protection of lives and property here in the state are
being identified.  Those full-time employees critical to the execution of
these missions will be exempt.  Non-exempt employees will be furloughed
until federal appropriations allow them to return to work.  Personnel who
are on Additional Duty Operational Support (ADOS) orders, and full-time
general schedule federal employees of the Guard will report to work for
their next scheduled work day.  At that time, non-exempt employees will be

Drill weekends for all Washington National Guard units scheduled for this
weekend (April 8-10) have been canceled, and will be re-scheduled at a
future date.  Guard members who performed their drill last weekend will be
paid on time.  Soldiers and Airmen currently conducting their two-week
Annual Training period will end their training on Saturday; Annual Training
will be rescheduled at a later time.  Citizen-soldiers currently attending
certain Army schools may be sent home.  The State Family Programs conference
scheduled April 8-10 in Cle Elum has been abbreviated to April 8-9.  We are
working to contact all of our impacted personnel by the close of business
today in order to give them and their families an accurate assessment of the
situation and how it will affect them.

We currently have approximately 400 citizen-soldiers and airmen on Title X
federal active duty preparing for deployment and serving in locations around
the world.  The pay of these service members will be affected in the same
way that other active duty service members will be impacted.  If this causes
a significant hardship for any of the families of our deployed Guardsmen,
please call our Veterans and Families (J9) Directorate at 1-877-585-5655.

Operations continuing through next week will include the staffing of our
Joint Operations Center, Counter Drug Task Force training with Drug
Enforcement Agency and Military Funeral Honors support to funeral services
of veterans.

State employees of the Washington Military Department will continue to work
per their normal schedules.

Public safety and security through our state and federal mission are the
priority of the Washington National Guard.  Plans and personnel are, and
will be in place to ensure these priorities are met.    

February 3, 2011 at 10:17am

Aviation Guard unit to deploy Saturday

CAMP MURRAY - The Washington National Guard will bid farewell to the 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation in a ceremony on Saturday, February 5 at 2:00 pm in the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The unit will serve in support of Operation New Dawn and will be based in Kuwait. Approximately 180 Army National Guard aviators, support personnel and staff from all over the State of Washington will comprise the deploying force.

"The air warriors from the Raptor Battalion are well known throughout the military aviation community for their professionalism and record of excellence.  They will represent our state and nation well, and accomplish their mission," said Major General Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Adjutant General and commander of the Washington National Guard.

Commonly referred to as "The Raptor Battalion" the 1/168 Aviation is headquartered at JBLM, under the Washington Army National Guard's 66th Theater Aviation Command.  Their mission will focus on the synchronization of aviation assets, senior leader movement and general support missions in the Operation New Dawn Theater.  The Raptor Battalion flies and maintains UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

The unit recently completed a portion of their mobilization training and certification at the Yakima Training Center.  They will spend a couple of months training at Fort Hood, Texas and then deploy to Kuwait.  They will be mobilized for 12 months, plus any leave time they accrue.  The Raptor Battalion previously served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2007 to May 2008.    

January 28, 2011 at 12:32pm

Military ‘Bravest Families’ join First Lady on Oprah Show

WASHINGTON - Two military families shared their stories - one of perseverance through deployment, one of recovering from a life-changing war injury - with the nation Thursday.

The families, and the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, appeared along with First Lady Michelle Obama and journalists Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The episode, "The Bravest Families In America," aired Thursday.

The first family to appear, former Army Sgt. Corey Brest, his wife, Jenny, and their two children, live in the small town of Yankton, S.D.

Brest was serving in Iraq with his National Guard unit when a roadside bomb wounded him in 2005. The injury left him nearly blind and unable to move or speak as he once did.

Jenny said she has gone from being wife to caregiver, and though she accompanies and encourages the man she calls "the love of my life" to job training sessions and speech and physical therapy appointments, their lives will never be the same.

"Our biggest sacrifice is time," she said. "When we picked up the pieces at the hospital, we lost time there because I left home and I missed our son's first steps, his first words. We both missed it. Even here without [Corey's] sight, he feels like he's missing out. Yes, he's living every moment with us, but he's not getting to see his kids grow up."

Brokaw comes from the same small town as the couple, and helped to arrange their appearance on the show. Author of the World War II book "The Greatest Generation," he has in recent years striven through his writing and speeches to bring America's attention to today's veterans and how their lives, and their families' lives, have been changed by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

To read more, click here.

January 20, 2011 at 9:08am

Army sees slight reduction in active-duty suicides

WASHINGTON - Suicides among active-duty soldiers dropped slightly last year to 156 confirmed deaths, from 162 in 2009, the Army vice chief of staff said today.

At the same time, suicides among National Guard soldiers increased, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing.

"While we achieved modest success in reducing the number of suicides of these soldiers on active duty, we saw a significant increase in the number of suicides of soldiers not serving on active duty, to include a doubling in the Army National Guard," he said.

In 2009, the number of Guard and Reserve soldiers who committed suicide while not serving on active duty was 80. In 2010, that number nearly doubled to 145.

"In 2010, we've got two obvious questions, Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, said. "First of all, what happened? And second, we have to be able to respond and tell people what we are doing about it," he said.

To read the entire story, click here.

Filed under: Army News, Health, National Guard,

January 13, 2011 at 11:31am

Ex-soldier in Lacey fights deportation to Pakistan

This from The News Tribune: A disabled former Washington National Guard soldier got to go home to Lacey after his immigration hearing ended Wednesday, but he still could be deported to his native Pakistan later this year.

Muhammad Zahid Chaudhry, 37, brought about 30 supporters from the Olympia area with him for his hearing before an immigration judge on charges that he lied on visa documents. He sat in his wheelchair, wore his National Guard dress uniform and appealed to stay in the U.S. based on his service in the military.

"I have served with honor and dignity," Chaudhry, who was discharged a year ago for medical reasons, said before his hearing began.

For more on the story, click here.

October 19, 2010 at 9:20am

Guard troops to help local wetlands

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - Approximately 70 citizen-soldiers from the Washington Army National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program will partner with Citizens for a Healthy Bay to protect and facilitate growth of the Gog-Le-Hi-Te wetlands along the Puyallup River on Sunday, October 24.

This community service project is part of a nationwide National Guard initiative known as "Guard the Environment."  The program is designed to protect and enhance the environment in our communities and reaffirm the Guard's commitment to the environment.

"Members of the Washington National Guard live and serve in communities all over the state.  Fulfilling our civic duty to the environment enhances the quality of life for us all," said Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Adjutant General.

The "Guard the Environment" program is also designed to be an educational opportunity for our citizen-soldiers. Partnering with local organizations dedicated to environmental health and sustainment provides a hands-on classroom through community service.  

The area known as the Gog-le-hi-te wetlands were once a landfill along the Puyallup River. The Puyallup Indians named the off-channel sites to mean "where the land and waters meet."  The man-made wetlands support a healthy ecosystem with thousands of plants, more than 100 types of birds and a variety of mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. 

Filed under: National Guard, Puyallup,

October 1, 2010 at 3:49pm

Guard EOD soldiers depart on year-long deployment

CAMP MURRAY - The Washington Army National Guard bid farewell today to approximately 25 citizen soldiers from the 319th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) headquartered at Camp Murray.  The 319th will be deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 319th transitioned onto federal active duty status Thursday. Their mission will be to respond to, analyze, attack and mitigate explosive hazards and improvised explosive device threats throughout the Central Command Theater.

"The 319th is embarking upon a vital mission that will be crucial to the safety of those they serve with overseas.  They are very well trained and will make our state and nation proud," Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Adjutant General and Commander of the Washington National Guard, said in a release.

The 319th will receive pre-deployment training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, before deploying to the CENTCOM Theater later this fall.  319th teams will serve throughout CENTCOM including Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. The deployment is scheduled for 12 months plus any leave time they accrue, and are slated to return home in the fall of 2011.  

The unit previously served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2004 to December 2005.  The 319th consistently trains with local, state and federal jurisdictions here in the U.S. 

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