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Mar-04-2008 13:20printcomments

Salem-News.com Goes In-Country to Cover Oregon Soldiers

You are invited to join Salem-News.com for a special fundraising event at one of the state's most beautiful wineries.

U.S. Army Sgt. Hsiaotsung Chao
U.S. Army Sgt. Hsiaotsung Chao, with Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, hands out toys to Iraqi children in Baghdad, Iraq last week. Soldiers gave away the toys during a site survey for the construction of an elementary school. The 10th Mountain is one of the groups Tim will embed with. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jason T. Bailey, U.S. Air Force.

(SALEM, Ore.) - An opportunity to help Oregon Guard soldiers serving in Iraq and Salem-News.com happens this Sunday in Rickreall, Oregon, as Eola Hills hosts a special fundraising brunch/wine tasting event to benefit our in-country Iraq coverage that is set to begin at the end of March.

Eola Hills hosted the fundraising event for our Afghanistan coverage that began in November 2006 and ran through January 2007. Our reporter/photographer Tim King, will go to Iraq this time, to be embedded with at least two Oregon National Guard units located in the Baghdad area, as well as the Army's 10th Mountain Division in Northern Iraq.

Salem-News.com, the Eola Hills Winery and other local businesses, believe that this coverage is essential as Oregon has hundreds of National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq go on not receiving coverage.

The answer is simple. The television networks, on the record in some cases, have concluded that the war in Iraq is "unpopular" and not a good source of ratings. In other words, these programming executives have turned their back on our troops.

That line may run the risk of being abused or over-used, since so many people have accused others of "not supporting the troops" in recent years, but the lack of television news coverage may be a clear example of closing the door on the lives of those who serve.

We appreciate your help in reaching our goal of covering the service of Oregon's civilian soldiers at war. Tim says he learned in Afghanistan that the "weekend warrior" stigma is long behind the Oregon Guard, whose members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly in recent years.

"The guard soldiers are people who are very in touch with the daily life of a civilian. While their professionalism is at or above any level it needs to be for a soldier, they bring compassion and problem solving skills from their professional careers back in Oregon, or whatever state they are from, and it makes a necessary difference."

He also cites the importance of Oregon businesses and communities working together.

"I am flying to the Mid East with Evergreen Aviation out of McMinnville. This group works closely with the U.S. military and maintains an important aviation presence in may parts of the world, but they are based in Oregon."

While Oregon comes together to support important causes, it is a Michigan company, vio-pov.com that has offered to supply high tech combat helmet mounted video cameras. The owner of the organization contacted Salem-News.com to say he will provide two of the $699.95 units for Tim to use in Iraq. These will provide an amazing window into what Tim sees, and the list of features places V.I.O.'s products at the top of the lineup of similar helmet mounted devices.

There are a number of items mentioned below, that will greatly affect the success of our work in Iraq. Tim's experience of two months over the winter of 2006/07 covering the Oregon Guard in Afghanistan allows Salem-News.com to have a much clearer idea about what it takes to cover war.

Here are some of the items that will greatly assist this project:

Need: Cellular phone and calling plan (International)

Need: Blackberry phone

Need: Good quality digital still camera

X Helmet mounted video cameras (This need is met by the owner of a Michigan company, V.I.O., that contacted Salem-News.com with a goal of providing the two required cameras)

Need: Dual core laptop computer

Need: External hard drives, flash drives and SD cards

Need: Improved body armor (Tim currently has a Salem Police SWAT vest but it does not stop the dreaded 7.62 AK-47 round as the soldier's body armor does)

Need: Clothing items: other things such as thermals, hiking socks, military style pants

Need: Travel Expenses: (Tim will travel from New York to Kuwait with Evergreen Aviation, but round trip travel, food and lodging costs still exist from Oregon to New York)

You can make a PayPal donation with your credit card at the bottom of the page

If any groups, individuals or companies would particularly like to raise Tim's safety level while in Iraq, please consider providing an upgraded ballistic type vest. We have already received our first $50 PayPal donation for that specific goal.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Knopp's Jewelers in Salem for providing Tim's military helmet as well as several other local businesses and individuals who assisted in Tim's coverage of the war in Afghanistan.

Details on the Special Event: March 9th

For those who can attend, a special event will be held Sunday, March 9th at Eola Hills Winery in Rickreall, Oregon, FROM 12:30-3:00 pm. This is a Salem-News.com sponsor that was instrumental in helping us raise funds for the trip to Afghanistan.

We will bring you more information as we near the event, and look for additions to the list of needs as well. All of those who help will be credited in our war reports.

Contact Bonnie King at: bonnie@salem-news.com and tell her what you would like to do to help. Tim is the father of several boys ranging from 8 to 24 and they all appreciate the community's support in making this a safe and effective project.

To Help, donate via PayPal:

To send a check:
Salem-News.com
Attn: Iraq Trip
P.O. Box 5137
Salem, Oregon 97304

THANK YOU!!

Other stories on Tim's upcoming war coverage in Iraq:

Final thought: Tim wants to thank all of the people who helped with his work in Afghanistan. Even if Tim can not upgrade his ballistic vest, he has one he can use in the meanwhile thanks to the Salem, Oregon Police SWAT team. He has a combat helmet from Nopp's Jewelers in Salem. They are only part of the help we received, and we have not forgotten that generosity. We hope you feel it was put to good use.




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