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Press Release
March 09, 2009
Oregon welcomes home airmen from Iraq deployment
 
WARRENTON, ORE. (March 7, 2009)—Members of one of the most activated and deployed units in the Oregon Air National Guard participated in a demobilization ceremony at the Rilea Training Facility here.

Twenty-seven members of the 116th Air Control Squadron were deployed to Iraq from September 2008 to February 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Governor Ted Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard; State Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose); Oregon Representative Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach); Warrenton Mayor, Gilbert Gramson; Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, members of both the Oregon Air and Army National Guard, in addition to family and friends of the returning airmen, attended the event.

Brig. Gen. Prunk said the veterans were ready when their nation called, and collectively did an excellent job.

"They are an example of what I'm looking for out of the rest of the Oregon Air National Guard. I'm very proud of what they do," Brig. Gen. Prunk said.

While 22 members provided remote radar and communications support to Balad airbase from a region known as Qayyarah, northwest of Baghdad, a five-member team worked directly with the Air Operations Center at Balad airbase.

The group was part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, 727th Air Control Squadron, based in Iraq.

Maj. Keith Townsend, Director of Operations for the 116th ACS, who was the Assistant Director of Operations for the 727th EACS while deployed, said the experience helped his airmen improve their skills for both their state and wartime tasks.

"Anytime Oregon's airmen can go abroad, it allows us to do our state mission much better," he said. "But in the AOR (Area of Responsibility), we are challenged in ways we aren't anywhere else."

Maj. Gen. Rees told the gathering that the units' collective expertise makes them a valuable addition to any deployment.

"There are no apprentices in this organization," he said. "When they go and participate with the Air Force, the Department of Defense knows they're going to get top-rated people."

He also thanked the members of the unit who stayed in Oregon, for their assistance during fierce winter storms in December, 2008.

During the ceremony, the unit was awarded the Iraqi Campaign Medal, The Air Force Expeditionary Service Medal, The Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, and Oregon Faithful Service Ribbon with M Device, for outstanding service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Senior Airman Rick Lowe, the lowest ranking member in the unit, was presented the Iraqi Campaign Medal by Maj. Gen. Rees in front of his fellow airmen.

"I encourage other airmen to deploy, now that I've been there and I know what goes on," said Senior Airman Lowe. "It was my first deployment, but it was a good experience, and a great learning opportunity."

Senior Airman Lowe, who grew up in Florence, Ore., said the operations tempo was pretty high during the first two months the unit was in Iraq.

"We worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day," he said. "Our annual training is pretty laid back, but it gets a bit more serious, and busy, in a war zone."


Photo:

090307-F-1639C-042.JPG: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, speaks to the gathering at the demobilization ceremony for the Oregon Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Squadron at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., on March 7. The unit deployed to Iraq from September 2008 to February 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office).

090307-F-1639C-067.JPG: Senior leaders from the community and the Oregon National Guard gather alongside friends and family members of airmen from the Oregon Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Squadron, for the unit's demobilization ceremony at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore. The unit deployed to Iraq from September 2008 to February 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office).

090307-F-1639C-071.JPG: Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, presents Senior Airman Rick Lowe with the Iraqi Campaign Medal during the demobilization ceremony for the Oregon Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Squadron, at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., on March 7. As the lowest-ranking member of the unit, Lowe represented 26 other members of the unit, who also received the award, for their participation in a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office).

090307-F-1639C-080.JPG: Governor Ted Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard; State Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose); Oregon Representative Deborah Boone (D-Cannon Beach); Warrenton Mayor, Gilbert Gramson; Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, and other senior members of the Oregon National Guard congratulate the assembled members of the Oregon Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Squadron, at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., following the unit's demobilization ceremony on March 7. The unit deployed to Iraq from September 2008 to February 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office).
 
 
Contact Info:
 
Capt. Stephen Bomar
Deputy Public Affairs Officer
Oregon Military Department
503-584-3885
or via e-mail at: