At HR Armory, soldiers’ turn to say thanks to citizens

Col. Brian Dean thanks Sen. Chuck Thomsen as Guardsmen look on.

Photo by RaeLynn Ricarte.
Col. Brian Dean thanks Sen. Chuck Thomsen as Guardsmen look on.

Community members of The Dalles and Hood River were recognized March 9 for their long-term support of the Oregon National Guard and Family Readiness Group program at an appreciation luncheon.

“We wanted to thank these folks for what they have contributed to soldiers from the 3-116 (Third Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team) before, during and after their deployment,” said Sergeant First Class Eric Frasier.

He oversees the Hood River Armory, where the ceremony took place that was attended by about 70 soldiers from Headquarters and Fox companies.

Janet Block of The Dalles was one of seven people who received a framed “Thank you” certificate from Lt. Col. Brian Dean and Command Sergeant Major Ronald Blocker. She is a member of the Gorge Heroes Club, a nonprofit group that provides services to military families across the Mid-Columbia region.

“It was a total shock,” said Block. “I have never received anything like that before. It was a very pleasant day, everyone was so nice, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.” She was joined by her husband, James.

Block said being able to climb onboard one of the new M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles was the highlight of the day for James, a Navy veteran and former Guard member who is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Frasier and other soldiers provided the Blocks and other visitors with an opportunity to learn how Humvees and other military vehicles operated.

Invited guests from The Dalles included: Norm and Rose Chance, parents of Staff Sergeant Richard Chance, who is assigned to the Hood River unit; Les Cochenour, local representative for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and his wife, Jody. Bob Stone, owner of Bob Stone Freeway Auto Center, was unable to attend but will be given a special trophy for his $10,000 contribution in 2013 to Guard and veteran programs.

Receiving awards from Hood River were: Sen. Chuck Thomsen, Stacey Methvin, a founding member of the Heroes Club; orchardists John and Julie Benton; and Pastor Mike Murphy and his wife, Tina, of Parkdale. U.S. Rep Greg Walden was represented by Wade Ferguson, senior field representative from the Medford office, who read a letter from his boss, and Cole McClure, new veteran liaison who works out of the Bend office.

Terri Hansen, coordinator for Guard family programs in Hood River, said another 20 certificates will be given to people who were unable to be present for the ceremony but are committed to ongoing support of active-duty troops and citizen soldiers.

She said the Heroes Club took care of more than 650 guard members during their 2010-11 deployment to Iraq, including soldiers from The Dalles and Hood River armories. One hundred and forty-two of these individuals were not receiving other mail from home so the support from members of the two communities was an important part of keeping their morale high.

When the soldiers returned from their assignment as part of Operation New Dawn, Hansen said financial assistance was given to help who were unemployed and that support continues today.

“We really wanted people who have made the commitment to take care of those who are defending our country to know that their efforts are valued and appreciated,” she said.

Dean assumed command of the battalion Feb. 9 and resides in La Grande. He served as an intelligence officer during a deployment to Iraq in 2004-05 and an operations officer during a second 2009-10 tour of duty, also in Iraq.

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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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