National Guard jumps in to help with firefighting effort

Contributed photo Above left, National Guardsmen have been helping fight fires across the country. Local Guardsmen include (front, from left) SPC William Ratzlaff of Burns, SFC Brian Crowl of La Grande. Back row, left to right: SFC Aaron Richardson of Hines, CPL Edward Lewis of John Day, SPC Michael Whiteaker of Hines and SPC Kenneth Upshaw of Burns.

BURNS - On July 21, the first contingent of Grant County's unit of the Oregon Army National Guard departed for fire duty. They are part of the 532-member force that has been placed on state active duty to fight the numerous fires that are presently blazing through the state. Almost the entire remaining members of Grant County's unit are on stand-by for activations for fire duty should circumstances warrant their service. The National Guardsmen completed two days of training before being deployed.

SFC Aaron Richardson of Hines said, "It has become necessary for the Oregon Army National Guard to defend Oregon against the numerous fire situations that exist throughout the state. The proud members of the detachment are ready and enthusiastic and will do what they can to protect our living and working environment."

CPL Edward Lewis of John Day echoed Richardson's sentiments, "I'm glad for the opportunity to help my community. This is what I signed up for."

In Oregon, almost 1,500 Oregon Guardsmen are currently on state or federal active duty orders. In addition to the 532-man deployment, in May the 1-186 Infantry Battalion was sent to the Sinai Desert for six months. A company also has been deployed to Central Asia and another unit is completing a tour in the Balkans.  

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