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Press Release
March 29, 2002
Air Guard to receive award for humanitarian efforts
Portland, Ore. - On Saturday, March 30, 2002 the Oregon Air National Guard's 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron will receive the Merito Service (Class I) Medal, for providing humanitarian relief to residents of Honduras after Hurricane Mitch devastated the nation more than four years ago.

Col. Jose Geronimo Barahona, assigned to the Honduran Armed Forces and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will present the nation's "highest award for exceptional service during times of crisis" to the Klamath Falls-based unit at a recognition banquet to be held at the Airport Sheraton Hotel (8245 NE Airport Way, Portland).
The annual banquet, will recognize outstanding military members and units in the Oregon Air National Guard and will employers who demonstrate unwavering support for the Guard and its members. --Media arrival time at the banquet is 7:45 pm, Saturday (Airport Sheraton Hotel). --Interested media personnel are required to contact Maj. Jeff Julum (503-584-3885) no later than 4:00 pm today if planning to attend.
Members of the 270 ATCS will be honored for providing much-needed supplies to Honduran residents following Hurricane Mitch in October 1998. Unit members collected, sorted and palletized food, water, clothing and medical supplies and arranged air transportation to Honduras, the Central American nation hardest hit by the hurricane. Approximately 50 pallets were air transported via Klamath Falls, Medford, and Portland to Tegucigalpa, Honduras over a span of several weeks.
 "At the time, several unit members saw the opportunity to help our Honduran friends during a difficult time," said Lt. Col. Michael Labounty, commander of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron. "Many community and non-profit agencies in Oregon needed help collecting and preparing a wide range of relief supplies for transport to Honduras."
Transporting resources, is something members of the 270 ATCS know about. They are capable of quickly moving supplies and equipment from one place to another and routinely train for mobilization anywhere in the world to execute their air traffic control mission. Hurricane Mitch (the Atlantic basin's fourth strongest hurricane ever recorded) sustained winds of 180 mph and destroyed homes, businesses, crops, bridges, streets and other infrastructure in Honduras. The hurricane, once inland, continued to dump heavy rains throughout Central America, causing floods and mudslides and killing approximately 10,000 people over a six-day period. During the past 15 years, Oregon Air and Army National Guard units have assisted the people of Honduras on numerous other occasions, to include providing air surveillance for counterdrug operations, building roads, and providing humanitarian supplies through Operation Shoe Box, a non-governmental organization that works closely with Southern Command to provide routine relief to Honduran residents. On January 31, 1991 Oregon adopted Honduras as its sister state when (then) President of the Senate John Kitzhaber signed Senate Joint Resolution 5.
Capt Mike Braibish
cell 503-932-5805
Kay Fristad
cell 503-931-5179