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Oregon Guard Night Crew Mission in Iraq (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
Oregon Guard soldiers assigned to an aviation support mission for the next year gain confidence in their roles.
(BALAD, Iraq) - Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have a seven day a week job with few exceptions. Members of an Oregon National Guard aviation support group stationed at Camp Anaconda at Balad, Iraq, are a shining example of those whose operation never rests.
In fact, the Oregon Guard 2/641 Aviation Support Group is in charge of the flight missions of two types of aircraft; the C-23 Sherpa transport plane and the "White Birds" which are the C-12 and Citation jet.
The Army's motto is "We Own the Night" and aviation is one specific area where operational tempo often increases after the sun sets. Flying slow, lumbering aircraft like the Sherpa can be dangerous during the day when enemy fire from the ground can inflict serious damage. At night, Iraq's temperatures are also reduced so the stress on the airplane is less.
The soldiers that comprise the 2/641 Aviation group are mostly from Oregon, but some members like Sgt. Chris Brown hail from other states, his case, Washington. They volunteered to be part of the Oregon Guard mission and will remain attached for the period of one year.
The base that most still know as Camp Anaconda is now officially called Joint Base Balad and it is home to more than 20,000 Americans. The Air Force has taken primary control of the base and the Oregon Guard soldiers work in conjunction with both the Air Force and the Navy and Marine Corps in this joint operation.
S/Sgt. Keith Downs says the troops are becoming increasingly adjusted and the stresses of being away from home and family are minimizing for some of the younger soldiers. He says they are performing at a high level in this around-the-clock mission.
These soldiers are responsible for planning flights, manifesting passengers and cargo onto the aircraft, and keeping tabs on them as they fly from point to point in Iraq and sometimes Kuwait.
For some soldiers like Sgt. Olivia Hunger, the long shifts and occasional tension are broken with a joke and a laugh when possible. She talked about how much she misses her little girl, as both Hunger and the child's father are serving a year tour at Balad, Iraq.
Hers is just one of many important and memorable stories from Iraq and I believe each one is worth hearing. The job these Oregonians have taken on is demanding and long-term. They will not drink or do many other things that they are accustomed to doing in their normal, everyday life. It is a huge sacrifice that they are willing to make.
I am back in Oregon now but I have looked forward to producing this story and presenting it to our viewers.
It is just an edited collection of random interviews with the soldiers pictured on the left. This is the third piece released on Salem-News.com that centers around the people of the Oregon Guard 2/641 Aviation Support Group.
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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.
Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: email@example.com
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