When Chuck asked me to talk about what I love about the Oregon Army National Guard, I didn’t know where to start. How do you start talking about an organization you are proud to belong to? It seems overwhelming and hard to pick what to talk about first.
I’ve had opportunities to consider an IST, and I am not willing to do it, my husband and I both have built up our careers in Oregon, and we are not interested in going anywhere else. I think there are many others in this organization that feel the same way I do. So, I will attempt to do this justice and talk about why I love the Oregon National Guard.
First, we have a proud history. The 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, formerly known as the 41st Infantry Division (Nicknamed the Sunset Division), fought proudly in World War I and World War II. Notable commanders include BG Hunter Liggett, who has a base named after him in California. We call ourselves the Jungleers in honor of the 41st Infantry Division. Our motto is ‘Always Ready, Always There’.
Second, we were established as a militia in 1843, which is prior to the state being officially recognized in 1859. We are comprised of a Joint Forces Headquarters, the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 82nd Troop Command Brigade. JFHQ is the staff and leadership elements for the state; the 41st IBCT has 2 infantry battalions, 1 cavalry squadron, 1 field artillery battalion, and 2 support battalions; and the 82d TCB has an engineering battalion, a cavalry battalion, a support battalion and the aviation battalion.
We have deployed multiple times in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2004, the 2-162 Infantry battalion performed full spectrum operations in Iraq with the 39th IBCT out of Arkansas, who were assigned to 1st CAV. This was a significant enough mission for not just Oregon, but the National Guard. John Bruning wrote a book about this deployment, called The Devil’s Sandbox.
In 2009, the entire 41st IBCT deployed to Iraq, which was the largest deployment of Oregon Soldiers since World War II. We have sent medevac platoons to Kosovo, we have individual leaders serving in important positions all over the military: Air Force MG Garry Dean, currently serving as the DCSOPS for Allied Joint Force Command, in Naples, Italy; Army MG Julie Bentz, who is Oregon’s first female general officer (and graduate of Oregon State – Go Beavers!). She currently serves on the National Security Staff in the Executive Office of the President as the Director of Strategic Capabilities Policy.
Our current TAG, MG Daniel Hokanson, previously served as the J-5 at USNORTHCOM, and Director of Strategic Policy for NGB. He was also the commander of the 41st IBCT on its last deployment to Iraq in 2009. The TAG previous, MG Raymond F. Rees, retired after 51 years. He was a troop commander in Vietnam, served as deputy CNGB, amongst other notable positions (he was also our TAG more than one time).
We also have our two most senior enlisted members, CSM Brunk Conley and Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, who are both serving as their respective branch’s command sergeant major/command chief positions for NGB. CSM Brunk Conley was the 2-162 IN CSM when they deployed to Iraq in 2004. He returned home from that deployment in 2005, and was named CSM for the 41st IBCT, who then went to Afghanistan the next year. He served as the state CSM before being named the 10th CSM of the Army National Guard.
As you can see, we have outstanding leadership at all levels, in both branches. I feel fortunate to have these leaders to look up to, and hope to contribute the best I can, in order to better the organization.