PENDLETON - A Pendleton-based National Guard unit, which services helicopters, has been called to active duty to support troops in Iraq.

Capt. Don Benson, of Pendleton, commander of Army National Guard Detachment 2, based at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton, confirmed today that his 14-member detachment has been called to active duty. He said plans call for members of the unit to leave Oregon in about two weeks for Savannah, Ga., for 30 days more of training before going to the Persian Gulf.

The unit will support troops in Iraq, but he declined to say where in the Gulf his unit would be stationed.

Benson said the Pendleton-based unit services Chinook helicopters. He said that at Fort Stewart in Georgia, his unit would train jointly with a Montana National Guard unit which specializes in Blackhawk helicopters, and a South Carolina Guard unit which works on Apace helicopters.

The Pendleton helicopter maintenance unit is about six months old and is one of three Guard units based at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport.

Besides Benson, members of the unit being called up are: Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Walker, Pendleton; Pvt. Andrew Gately, Pendleton; Pfc. Troy Crafton, Stanfield; Sgt. Kevin Davis, Walla Walla; St. Rayna Quinn, Kennewick; Sgt. Stephen Dotson, Union; Pvt. Charles Abraham, Molalla; Pfc. Taylor Bradley, Portland; Sgt. Ronald Witmer, Portland; Pfc. Jeremiah Williams, Baker City; Spc. Robert Wojtecki, The Dalles; Pfc. Brandon Essex, Lyle, Wash., and Staff Sgt. James Stanley, Arizona.

Col. Mike Caldwell, the Oregon National Guard's deputy director for State Affairs, said that before call-up of the Pendleton unit, seven other Oregon Guard units had been activated.

Benson said an activation ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Guard aviation facility at the airport.

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