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Press Release
February 03, 2009
City of Gresham thanks Oregon Guard for assistance during recent winter storms
 
The City of Gresham honored 29 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers for their assistance during recent severe winter storms.

The special ceremony took place during the Gresham City Council meeting in the Gresham City Hall's Council Chambers, presided over by Gresham's Mayor, Shane T. Bemis, on Feb. 3.

Bemis read a proclamation to the Oregon Army National Guard's 141st Brigade Support Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. Dan Morris, as a number of the unit's soldiers and their family members watched.

"On behalf of our citizens of Gresham, we express our deep appreciation for the men and women of the Oregon National Guard," the mayor stated in front of the standing-room only crowd.

Maj. Morris presented Mayor Bemis with a 141st BSB coin on behalf of Lt. Col. Brian James, battalion commander.

"I'm very proud of my guys. I've heard nothing but praise," said Maj. Morris.

Maj. Morris thanked Mayor Bemis and the city's fire and police personnel, many of who were also in the audience.

"I can't promise state assets, but if you ever need our help in the future, we'll be glad to do it," Maj. Morris joked.

The members of the unit were placed on state active duty to assist emergency responders reach snow-bound citizens during heavy snow and ice storms Dec. 22-27, 2008.

The unit provided six Humvees and drivers so police and emergency medical technicians could assist citizens in Gresham neighborhoods--many of which are remote or involve steep hills--rendering typical emergency response vehicles incapable of performing their duties in the deep snow.

"This was some of the nastiest stuff we've seen in a long time," said Gary Martin, a firefighter with Gresham Fire Station #71. "With the Humvees chained up, we had no problem reaching people who needed help."

Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger said the heavy snow prevented access to about half of the entire city of Gresham.

"When you're tasked with providing law enforcement to the community and you can't do it because you lack the resources, it's a bit disconcerting," he said. "We were really in a crisis. So when I saw those Humvees pull up, it was quite a relief."

Chief Junginger said the soldiers were enthusiastic and energetic, and worked well with his police officers.

"I think they enjoyed it. I know the police officers enjoyed it," he said. "Every time I saw them, they had smiles on their faces."

According to Maj. Morris, during the storm response, two soldiers went well above the call of duty during an emergency medical call.

Spc. Matthew White and Spc. Chelsea Moore, both of Alpha Company, drove a firefighter to a home in response to an emergency call in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood. Gary Palas had slipped on his icy front porch after returning home from dialysis treatment, tearing out the dialysis shunt. But instead of an ambulance showing up in his driveway, the 9-1-1 call resulted in an Oregon Army National Guard Humvee.

"If they had not shown up, I may not be alive today," Palas said, flanked by soldiers at the Gresham City Council meeting.

According to Maj. Morris, both Spc. White and Spc. Moore will also receive the Oregon Exceptional Service Medal with Gold Star for their selfless sacrifice and efforts ‘well beyond the call of duty.'

"Trust your training," said Spc. White, a resident of Vancouver, Wash., as he stood in the hall of the Gresham City Council building with his family. "A lot of people complain about all the training (we have to go through), but it helps," he said.

Spc. Moore, a resident of Gresham, said the opportunity for her unit to be recognized by her own community was rewarding, but the chance to see Mr. Palas again tugged at her heartstrings.

"I think I had a tear or two," Spc. Moore said. "It was very nice to see him again."

"I think it's a great opportunity for the ORNG to be recognized, especially the two soldiers who went on the Mt. Tabor mission," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Gallardo. "It's a statement of who we are and what we can do, and how we can benefit the community."

Gresham Fire Chief Scott Lewis said he was amazed and thankful at the quick response by the Oregon National Guard. From the time Mayor Bemis declared a state of emergency to when the soldiers showed up in Gresham was about 15 hours, he said.

"The Guard was always willing to do whatever was asked of them," Chief Lewis said. "They had one goal in mind: What's best for the citizens of Gresham."

He added that he is aware that many of the Guardsmen who helped during the storms have also served abroad, so the opportunity to serve here at home was fulfilling for everyone.

"If there's trouble, you call the police or the fire department. We'll give it our all to get you out of trouble," Chief Lewis said. "If the fire or police department are in trouble, we call the National Guard, and they will help keep us out of trouble."


Photo:

090203-F-1639C-012.JPG: Spc. Matt White, of Alpha Co., 141 Brigade Support Battalion, Oregon Army National Guard, chats with Gary Palas at the Gresham City Council meeting on Feb. 3, 2009. Spc. White and Spc. Chelsea Moore, also of Alpha Co., 141 BSB, responded to an emergency call from Palas' home in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood Dec. 24, 2008, using an Oregon Army National Guard Humvee. "If they had not shown up, I may not be alive today," Palas said. (US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

090203-F-1639C-027.JPG: Gresham City Mayor, Shane T. Bemis (right), reads a special proclamation honoring soldiers of the 141 Brigade Support Battalion, during a Gresham City Council meeting on Jan. 3, 2009, as Oregon Army National Guard 141 Brigade Support Battalion Executive Officer Maj. Dan Morris listens. The proclamation recognized 29 soldiers from the unit who were placed on state active duty orders to assist emergency response personnel during the heavy snowstorms Dec. 22-27, 2008. (US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

090203-F-1639C-037.JPG: Members of the Oregon Army National Guard's 141 Brigade Support Battalion pause for a photo following a Gresham City Council meeting on Feb. 3, 2009. The members of the unit were honored by Gresham City Mayor, Shane T. Bemis, for their participation in assisting emergency personnel during heavy snowstorms Dec. 22-27, 2008. (US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
 
 
Contact Info:
 
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy
503-584-3887