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Press Release
April 22, 2010
ORNG Soldiers of the 2-218 Field Artillery demobilize during ceremony at Forest Grove High School
 
FOREST GROVE, Ore. – In an unusual pairing, the Oregon Army National Guard's 234th Army Band teamed up with the Forest Grove High School Band at the demobilization ceremony for the 2nd Battalion, 218th Field Artillery at the school's football stadium, April 22.

What wasn't unusual were the thousands of family members, friends, community representatives, and well-wishers who welcomed them home, as they disembarked from the buses, which brought them from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., after a 10-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's very exciting. We all have butterflies," said Judy Spraker, wife of First Sgt. Daniel Spraker, a member of the 2-218th FA.

This will be Spraker's ninth deployment, she said. For others, it was their first.

"I've never been so excited to see my husband and have him home," said Jennye Helzer, wife of Capt. Pete Helzer, Battalion Operations Officer for the 2-218th FA. "It's been a long year and I feel more complete now than I ever have."

Jennye, who is the unit's Family Support Group Representative, said she and her husband drew from the experience of other Soldiers and their families who have already deployed. She also relied on a network of extended family members, friends, and other Oregon Guard spouses.

"(This support group) ranges from your neighbor to the organizations to your family members to your best friend," she said. "Ensuring that you have a network of people that you can rely on to help will help you sleep better."

Some of the dignitaries who attended the ceremony included Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, and Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax.

"Our National Guard is a time-honored tradition in this country," Rees said.

Rees drew a parallel between the Oregon National Guard members returning from Iraq, and the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War. He said the timing of the Oregon citizen-Soldiers' homecoming with the "Shot Heard Around the World" on April 19, 1775 was a poignant statement of the enduring tradition of the National Guard to protect homeland and freedom abroad.

"We've got twentieth century heroes doing the same things that those Revolutionary War heroes were doing here in Oregon," he added.

The unit, part of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was responsible for convoy security operations from as far west as the Jordan border and east near the Iranian border.

About 3,000 Oregon Soldiers participated in the deployment, making it the largest since WWII. Additional demobilization ceremonies are scheduled through the end of this week, and into the middle of next week.

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Photo Captions:
 
100422-F-1639C-027.JPG: Family members and friends wave to Oregon Soldiers of the 2-218 Field Artillery, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as they arrive at the Forest Grove High School Vikings Stadium prior to the unit's demobilization ceremony, April 22, in Forest Grove, Ore. Almost 3,000 Oregon Soldiers returned to the Northwest through early April following a 10-month deployment to Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs).

100422-F-1639C-083.JPG: Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Evan Bruno, of the 2-218 Field Artillery, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, embraces his sister Danielle as his unit arrived at the Forest Grove High School Vikings Stadium prior to the unit's demobilization ceremony, April 22, in Forest Grove, Ore. Bruno and almost 3,000 other Oregon Soldiers returned to the Northwest through early April following a 10-month deployment to Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs).

100422-F-1639C-114.JPG: The Oregon Army National Guard's 234 Army Band joined forces with the Forest Grove High School band during the demobilization ceremony for the 2-218 Field Artillery, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, April 22, in Forest Grove, Ore. The unit returned to the Northwest through early April as part of a group of nearly 3,000 Oregon Soldiers following a 10-month deployment to Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs).

100422-F-8260H-247.JPG: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski receives the State of Oregon flag from unit Executive Officer, Lt. Col. Mark S. Parrish, during the 2-218 Field Artillery demobilization ceremony at the Forest Grove High School in Forest Grove, Ore., April 22. Members of the unit participated in a 10-month deployment to Iraq as part of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

100422-F-8260H-489.JPG: Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski greets Staff Sgt. Alex Stareli, and other Soldiers of the Oregon Army National Guard's 2-218 Field Artillery, during the unit's demobilization ceremony at the Forest Grove High School in Forest Grove, Ore., April 22. Members of the unit participated in a 10-month deployment to Iraq as part of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

100422-F-8260H-089.JPG: Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Garen Hart, of the 2-218 Field Artillery receives drawings and greetings from friends and family upon arriving at the Forest Grove High School stadium in Forest Grove, Ore., prior to the start of the unit's demobilization ceremony, April 22. Members of the unit participated in a 10-month deployment to Iraq as part of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142 Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
 
 
Contact Info: Capt. Stephen Bomar, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Officer: 503-990-9508