PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, ORE. --
PORTLAND, Oregon - For nearly two decades, Citizen-Airmen have been responding to overseas contingency operations following the 9/11 attacks. The assignments have been as varied as the Airmen that have been called upon to fulfill them, all the while building new global partnerships and strengthening traditional alliances.
As 112 Oregon National Guardsmen from the 142nd Fighter Wing prepare to deploy, they continue to fill critical overseas missions with the United States African Command (AFRICOM), the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) and other international destinations. They were formally recognized for these newest challenges during a mobilization ceremony held March 2, 2019, at the Portland Air National Guard Base in Portland, Oregon.
For the members of the 142nd, the deployment window will range over the course of the next year beginning this month, as others will leave in the weeks to follow. A majority will serve tours up to 6 months and almost all will be home by September of 2020.
Addressing the Airmen, their families and co-workers in attendance at the mobilization ceremony, Maj. Gen. Michael Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon, described the challenges and responsibilities for those deploying as well as those ‘keeping the home fires burning.’
“For some of you, this will be your first deployment and you, as well as your families, will face challenges that you have never experienced,” Stencel said, describing the opportunities for the Airmen to grow while family and friends support their sacrifice.
He also called upon experienced Airmen to step up to new demands, “Your leadership skills will be put to the challenge and in the process, you will rise with the occasion and grow as leaders.”
The significance of the ceremony reinforced the commitment and continued service of Oregon National Guard members over the years. These Service Members play a critical role in preserving freedoms abroad as they leave their full-time civilian jobs and families.
During his remarks to the Airmen, Oregon Air National Guard Col. Adam Sitler, 142nd Fighter Wing commander, drew the extended line from the 1700’s to this present-day deployment.
“When I think of the iconic symbol of the National Guardsman; with one hand on the plow and the other on a musket, ready to leave the field and defend his country, I know that as we mobilize today, we are still playing this most vital role for our nation,” said Sitler.
This is not the first deployment for many of the Airmen being mobilized. Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Jacobs will be leaving later this year on his second deployment but this will be his first mobilization as an emergency management specialist.
“Prior to joining the Air Guard, I was deployed to Kuwait when I was on active duty working in Security Forces at Kuwait International Airport, performing vehicle and security checkpoint,” he said.
After a six-year break in service, Jacobs joined the 142nd Fighter Wing in 2013 and became part of the Civil Engineer Squadron. This deployment to support CENTCOM operations will allow him to foster some of those new skills.
“This will be the first time doing the emergency management job, even though I have been the assistant on [the Portland Air National Guard] base over the past few years,” he said.
His duties will include setting up detection systems for possible chemical and biological hazards and training for other threats on an everyday basis.
“Making those recommendations to the commander; who should be in protective gear, for how long, factoring in weather conditions, but also interacting with the command center to warn the local citizens of any dangers,” Jacobs said, in describing some of the threats and conditions he has trained for prior to deploying.
The investment with years of training, the means and equipment to be able to do so at home, will play a pivotal role during the deployment for many of the Airmen heading overseas.
Acknowledging the tools and assets the Airmen will need to continue to do their overseas mission, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said that, “under his watch, you will always have those resources.”
“Though we don’t have the big active duty bases like on the East Coast with the facilities and means so readily available, what you do have is all of us; your immediate family and your Oregon family,” he said.
As they build new proficiencies working with international partners, the Airmen will hopefully return with a newfound appreciation for the sacrifices they made along the way.
“As you head out abroad, you do so taking your unique skill sets and years of experience,” said Oregon State Treasure Tobias Read, describing the range of tasks the Airmen will face.
The biggest challenge most Airmen and their families will face are the missed birthday parties or graduations, and those important day-to-day moments that can’t be captured using video chats or mobile devices.
Representing Oregon Governor Kate Brown during the ceremony, Read wanted the deploying families to be reassured that they would have support during this deployment.
“To your families, I encourage you to reach out to your Air Guard community and lean on each other for support as you carry on without your loved ones and we will all be here with you to welcome them home again,” said Read.