|Oregon Guard journalist sends story back to local media includes photo
Staff Sgt. Rebecca Mae Bruns of the Oregon Army National Guard volunteered for the deployment with the 2nd Battalion, 162 Infantry. Oregon Army National Guard so she could capture the events with camera a stories.
She had to transfer to the 39th Brigade Combat Team of the Arkansas National Guard in order to deploy with the Oregon Troops. Attached is her latest story and photo from Iraq
Guard Soldiers Reach 24-Month Service Cap in Iraq
Troops Prepare for Home, Others Choose to Stay
Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae N. Bruns
39th Brigade Combat Public Affairs
The final round of Oregon Guard Soldiers who have reached their 24-month service cap for high operation tempo days will be returning home soon from Iraq. A law enacted by congress shortly after 9-11 limits a Guard or Reserve Soldier’s active duty obligation to 24 months within a five-year time span. The law was established to help avoid the abuse of reserve forces.
The 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry (2nd Bn., 162 Inf.) sent home a total of 60 Soldiers of the 95 who qualified to return to the States. Thirty chose to stay in Iraq while another five were sent back for rehabilitation due to battle injuries.
Battalion Commander Daniel Hendrickson spoke to soldiers during a recent awards ceremony and explained that he respected their decisions to leave Iraq.
"You guys have paid your dues on the deployment and on previous deployments – that has earned you the right to go home," said Hendrickson. "You all have families and guys, families come first because they will be here after this career is over."
Soldiers from Oregon who qualified to return home served on the Sinai Peninsula as part of a multinational observers force that was established in a peace agreement brokered by former President Jimmy Carter between Egypt and Israel in 1979. The Soldiers returned to their civilian lives after completing their deployment in Egypt but were mobilized again eight months later for duty in Iraq to fill out the 2nd Bn., 162nd Inf., headquartered in Cottage Grove, Ore.
Hendrickson said he wished Soldiers would stay because he didn’t like breaking up a good team but he understood their choices.
"This Team is known as one of the top two battalions in the 1st Calvary Division," said Hendrickson. "That’s coming from [Division Commander] Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli and [Assistant Division Commander of Supply] Brig. Gen. Hammond."
The Soldiers returning home have served and fought in some of Iraq’s most tumultuous areas to include Eastern Baghdad’s Sadr City, Adhamyiah and Taji, a city located just 20 miles north of Iraq’s capital. Other elements of the battalion have fought in Najaf and aided in Fallujah with the 1st Calvary Divisions, 2nd Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment. The Battalion as a whole has lost nine Soldiers and seen 51 wounded in action.
"We’ve lost good men – they’ve been wounded and they’ve been killed but none of you quit. You did the right thing," said Hendrickson speaking to Soldiers. "I will savor every moment I have shared with you both bitter and sweet."
The 30 Oregon Soldiers who chose to stay will be paid an extra $1,000 a month as incentive from the Department of Defense for each month that extends past their 24-month obligation.
Soldiers returning home are expected to arrive in Fort Hood, TX, within the week where they will spend five days in a series of debriefings before returning to their families in Oregon.
The rest of the battalion will remain in Iraq to complete its scheduled one-year ‘boots on the ground’ rotation. Officials anticipate the rotation will culminate sometime in March.
Saluting Your Service
Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson (L), gives one of his Soldiers a final salute for his service in Iraq. Soldiers who reached their 24-month service cap were given ‘end of tour’ awards for their time spent in Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
Maj. Arnold Strong, 503-584-3885
Capt Mike Braibish 503-584-3886, cell 503-932-5805
Kay Fristad 503-584-3917, cell 503-931-5179