Sun, Feb 01, 2009
Fleet Leaving For 400-Day Deployment
Called into duty for a 400-day deployment, all 12 of the Oregon
National Guard Black Hawk medevac helicopters and 135 pilots, crew
chiefs, maintenance and support staff are heading to Oklahoma for
training and then on to Iraq.
The Oregonian reports that last Thursday's deployment ceremony
was attended by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, US Representative
Kurt Schrader and John Walsh, adjutant general of Montana. Walsh's
23-year-old son Michael is one of the Black Hawk pilots.
This isn't the first deployment of the Oregon National Guard's
helos and staff to the Mideast, but it is the first time the entire
fleet has been called into duty - leaving only four pilots and one
borrowed helicopter to cover the state's emergency Guard calls.
"I do not know who will fill the void," said mountain rescuer
Michael Leming. "Even in perfect conditions it can take hours and
hours to get people off the mountain. The reality is people are
going to get seriously hurt, and some are not going to make
The Black Hawks were originally acquired by the Oregon National
Guard's 1042nd Air Ambulance Company in 1996 through a determined
bit of legislative maneuvering by Oregon's Republican Senator Mark
Hatfield, who managed to earmark 15 brand new UH-60Ls coming off
the Sikorsky assembly line for the Oregon National Guard.
The 1042nd was renamed in 2006 as Team Charlie - C Company, 7th
Battalion, 158th Aviation. Team Charlie is among over 3,000 Oregon
National Guard soldiers slated for deployment this year.
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