Back from Iraq, local soldiers honored for service


News staff writer

April 5, 2006

U.S. Army National Guard Sergeant Kenneth Miller and nine other soldiers attached to the Hood River Armory recently received medals for their service in Iraq.

Miller was awarded an Army commendation medal for his 18 months of active duty. He said it was very worthwhile to be involved in bringing democracy to the Middle Eastern country.

While in Iraq, Miller and others from the Armory were attached to the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Division of the Army. He was the spokesperson to share a soldier’s perspective of the deployment.

Miller said it was “disappointing” to return to the United States and not see news reports of the rebuilding efforts underway in Iraq.

“The media doesn’t seem to want to show the good things that are happening over there. But I had the opportunity to see the positive changes first-hand,” he said. “The most gratifying thing was the excitement of children about the growing opportunities to better their lives.”

Miller said many anti-war protesters don’t understand how strongly the military supports their right to freedom of speech. He said no one is more committed to protecting American freedoms than a soldier who is willing to put his/her life on the line for that cause.

“I think the only thing that bothers us is when people burn the flag or carry it improperly,” he said. “All we ask is that protesters respect the flag because of what it stands for — and we’ll be the first to salute it when they pass by.”

At a ceremony in late March, retired First Sgt. Leroy Himes and Lt. Colonel Donald Dellinger also pinned commendation medals on the uniforms of: Sgt. Edward Arneson, Staff Sgt. Gary Norris, Sgt. Shane Paasch, retired Staff Sgt. Luke Wilson, Staff Sgt. Wayne Calkins, Staff Sgt. Travis Sheehan, and Sgt. Oliver Phelps. Dellinger also received the award.

In addition, Wilson, who lost his right leg in battle, and Calkins received a medal of valor for acts of bravery and personal sacrifice while engaged by hostile enemy fire.

Miller, Wilson, Calkins, Phelps, Arneson and Sgt. Eric Lund all received combat action badges. They were recognized for facing soldiers or hostile fire in combat.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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