It is never an easy task to say goodbye to some of the region’s best, but we want to wish the members of Hermiston’s Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry (Armor) the best as they depart on an overseas deployment.
The recent ceremony for the 75 members of the Oregon Army National Guard outfit at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center sent the citizen-soldiers off in style as they will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, to complete training for the deployment to somewhere in southwest Asia.
The deployment is certainly an important milestone for the regional Guard unit, but the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry is no stranger to overseas duty.
Twice during the war on terror, the 3rd Battalion deployed to Iraq. The battalion also can trace its lineage — or history — to units from the 41st Infantry Division that deployed to the Pacific Theater during World War II.
The key point to the deployment is a simple one and as old as the nation. When citizen-soldiers are deployed to foreign shores, they represent their towns and regions in a very real way. When Guard soldiers are sent overseas, their actions are linked directly to Main Street.
They are not regular Army personnel who come from all over the nation but natives of a specific region with strong ties to their communities. In a sense, when they deploy, so does a piece of Hermiston or Pendleton or La Grande or Baker City.
That is the unique aspect of the Oregon Army National Guard. They are men and women plucked from the rural heartland and will complete their mission and then return to civilian life and a part-time gig with the National Guard.
For the first time in a long time the nation is not at war, but the deployment of the 75 citizen-soldiers is no less meaningful or, to some extent, dangerous. The world is a complicated, messy place, and while we wish the very best to our Guardsmen, we hope the community understands their commitment and courage.
We wish the citizen-soldiers of the 116th Cavalry Godspeed and a safe return.