Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hood River Oregon National Guard - Meet Our Newly Commissioned Lieutenants

HOOD RIVER citizens are served by these four newly-commissioned 2nd Lieutenants: Sam Specht (back left), Alvin Hatfield, Charles Schumacher and Joshua Shepherd (front).

Four newly commissioned second lieutenants with the Hood River Armory will spend Memorial Day traveling to Fort Sill, Okla., for advanced training.

After completing the five-month Basic Officer Leadership Course, 2nd Lt. Joshua Shepherd, 36, will assume command of the National Guard soldiers assigned to the local armory. He resides in Portland and holds a third-degree black belt in Ninjitsu and has specialized training in HAZMAT response.

Shepherd earned a bachelor’s degree in general sciences from Portland State University. He has served as an Army medic but is now studying for a nursing degree at Oregon Health and Science University while working at the Oregonian newspaper. “I think a good officer works closely with good non-commissioned officers (soldiers) to keep the soldiers amped and interested in doing their best,” said Shepherd, who worked his way up through the ranks since enlisting four years ago.

Second Lt. Alvin Hatfield, 22, has also been in the Guard for four years. He is still waiting to learn if he will deploy to Iraq in September with the 3rd Battalion of the 116th Calvary Regiment, which includes 40 soldiers from Hood River.

Hatfield has just completed studies at Pullman, Wash., to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies and plans to continue his education. Every month, he makes the four-and-a-half-hour commute from the rural community to train in Hood River. “As an officer, you have to always be striving for more but doing so by showing respect for your soldiers so that you will get respect back,” said Hatfield.

Second Lt. Sam Specht, 23, has been a member of the Guard for five years and lives in Gold Hill. He travels seven hours to join soldiers at the Gorge armory on drill weekends. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology from Southern Oregon University and is continuing his education. Specht is set to become the commander of a Woodburn unit after completing the spring and summer endurance challenges set up by the Army. “I think being an officer means that you have more responsibility, more work and more of an opportunity to make a difference,” said Specht.

Second Lt. Charles Schumacher, 23, has been in the Guard for six years and is a new graduate of Eastern Oregon University. His area of expertise is computer science/business and his studies were partially paid by an ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Course) scholarship. Schumacher resides in La Grande, about four hours away from the Hood River unit. He will transfer to Charlie Company in Ontario once he has completed the leadership course. “An officer needs to ensure that his soldiers are up-to-date on their training because you never know when the state will need something and call upon us,” said Schumacher.

All four lieutenants currently fill artillery officer positions but will focus much of their time during the next year on assisting the families of deployed soldiers at their respective armories.


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Oregon National Guard SFC Norris To Be Keynote Speaker For Memorial Day Ceremony

The Memorial Day Ceremony at Idlewilde Cemetery in Hood River will begin Monday at 11a.m., a time change from years past. Bob Huskey is the sexton and manager of the cemetery at 980 Tucker Road. He will serve as master of ceremonies on May 31 and said the annual service to honor America’s fallen warriors was moved back one hour to create consistency among similar events. Memorial Day will now begin at the same time as the Fourth of July Parade and Veterans Day.

On Monday, soldiers from the Hood River Armory will open the ceremony by leading a processional through the Walk of Honor, the aisle of flags lining the central driveway. Music will be provided by the Hood River Valley High School Band and Dana Branson, vocalist for the band Larkspur.

Oregon National Guard Sergeant First Class Gary Norris, also the commander of American Legion Post 22, will be the keynote speaker. He will share information about the deployment of local soldiers to Iraq in September and how the community can support these military families.

A flyover of vintage aircraft will be provided by the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. Eighteen new plaques have been installed in 2010 along the Scattered Ashes Memorial. The families of these deceased veterans will be recognized during the 45-minute service.

More than 1,000 flags will decorate the graves of veterans for Memorial Day. Huskey invites anyone who has not previously had a flag on the grave of a loved one who served in the armed forces to call Idlewilde at 541-386-2599 or e-mail

The Memorial Day service has been organized by the Veterans Service Council. That group is comprised of representatives from the cemetery, American Legion, Oregon National Guard, Gorge Heroes Club and Anderson’s Tribute Center.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Family United - Oregon & Washington National Guard Members

Almost every day in the Rouleaus’ blended family is focused on someone in uniform.

Trish McGrath-Rouleau has a husband, two sons and one stepson serving in the Oregon National Guard. She also has a stepdaughter and stepson who are soldiers with the Washington State National Guard. “It seems like I’m always sending packages or e-mails to someone who is gone,” she said. “As a military family, we have to make our holidays happen whenever we can get everyone together."

In 2009, Thanksgiving dinner was served a couple of weeks late at the Rouleaus’ home in The Dalles. The meal was followed by a visit from Santa Claus and the unwrapping of Christmas presents. Dessert was a birthday cake and the evening ended with New Year’s well-wishes. The reason for the combined festivities was that the patriarch of the family, SFC. Roger Rouleau, was home on his mid-deployment leave from Iraq. “Things can get pretty chaotic but we do the best that we can with what we have,” said McGrath-Rouleau.

Roger recently returned from his one-year tour of duty with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In civilian life, he works as an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad. “To go to the faucet now and be able to get a cold glass of water is such a treat,” he said. “I think the experience has made me even more grateful for the American lifestyle; we have so much to be thankful for.” While in the Middle East, Rouleau was elected as the mayor of East Liberty, a base that houses several thousand soldiers. “I didn’t have to kiss many babies because no else really wanted that job,” he said.

In addition to his military duties as a contract officer representative, Rouleau became the unofficial ambassador to 64 Iraqi linguists who accompanied and interpreted for soldiers sent into the field. “With the military downsizing over there, we all had a wide variety of jobs to perform,” he said.

In September, he and Trish will bid farewell to sons, Sgt. Andrew Young, 24, and PFC. Jim Rouleau, 21. The stepbrothers will deploy to Iraq with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team. “I’m a little nervous about going to Iraq but at least I’ll have my brother with me and that makes me feel pretty good,” said Young, who is in college with plans to become a history teacher. Both men are assigned to Fox Company at the Hood River Amory but will head out with a Pendleton unit. Thirty-two soldiers from Hood River and about 140 members of Alpha Company from The Dalles will be participating in Operation New Dawn, the final phase of the Iraq war. McGrath-Rouleau said the family has rented a house at the beach for the Memorial Day weekend. She said everyone will once again have the opportunity to celebrate a few more birthdays and holidays before the next one-year separation.

Another Rouleau family member, Specialist Ryan Young, 25, will stay behind to help train the 20 soldiers left at the Hood River Amory. He works full-time at the Guard’s local operations center as a supply technician. He and wife, Jolleen, reside in The Dalles and are the proud parents of Cadence, 15 months, the first and only grandchild.

In close proximity to the time that Andrew and Jim return home from Iraq in 2011, Sgt. Cathay Rouleau, 25, and Sgt. John Rouleau, 26, will be leaving for Afghanistan with other members of a Washington state unit. Both soldiers have two previous deployments to the Middle East. Trish said Jim has three years of Guard experience and everyone else has seven or more years, with Roger putting in 23 years between his time as a citizen soldier and eight years of active duty as a Navy pilot. Ryan, Jim, Andrew, John and Cathay have used the benefits provided by the military to further their education. Trish’s eldest son, Brandon Young, 27, is a Marine veteran.

The elder Rouleaus met when Roger was working as a recruiter in The Dalles and Trish was helping Ryan and Andrew negotiate contracts. They married in 2003 and two years ago brought new daughter Zori, almost 4, home from China. Soon, she will be joined by 2-year-old Molly Ann, also from China.

McGrath-Rouleau said the most difficult thing about Roger’s deployment was shielding the pre-schooler from news or conversations about the war. “She didn’t want to know that her daddy was in jeopardy; she wanted to know that he was coming home,” she said.

The Guard’s family support program provided Zori with a “Flat Daddy,” a life-sized poster of Roger that sat on her bedside table each night. She was also given a “Daddy Doll,” a stuffed figurine dressed in camo with a photo of Roger inserted for the face. McGrath-Rouleau said the separation anxiety felt by Zori was evidenced when she ran up to a soldier one day and hugged his leg. “Zori was thrilled because she thought that was someone connected to her daddy,” she said.

“There can be a lot of tough moments, emotionally, in a military family but we are also very proud of the service that our loved ones provide. “I have learned not to waste time sitting around and worrying; I just trust that God is taking care of my soldiers.”
Article from Hood River News

Saturday, May 8, 2010

LDS Youth Group Members Adopt Hometown Hero Marines

Youth Group members from the LDS Church in Hood River pack boxes for a team of Marines currently serving in Afghanistan. The church adopted the military unit after learning that the men were camping out in the field and going up to one month without a shower. The care packages that will be sent monthly by LDS members include basic hygiene items, such as wet wipes, that will make the Marines more comfortable as the daily temperature tops 120 degrees. Also included are pre-packaged snack items and drink mixes that will help the Marines keep their energy level up while on patrol in an area where they come under fire on an almost daily basis.

Thank you for supporting our Hometown Heroes!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Smith-Western, Inc Donates to GHC

The Gorge Heroes Club would like to thank Smith-Western, Inc from Portland, Oregon for their generous donation of 1000 scenic Oregon/PNW Postcards. GHC members will be attaching the cards to small bags of candy that our Hometown Heroes will be disbursing to children on their missions throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.

Your goodwill donation is greatly appreciate. Our heroes THANK YOU!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hometown Heroes Update

The above pictures were sent to us from one of our Hometown Heroes who is serving proudly to defend his nation and our freedoms. His name has been withheld for security reasons. Sending special thanks out to this Marine Warrior and his unit. Thanks for sending us your updates. Your care packages are on their way!


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Standing Strong For Our Heroes Rally

"BECAUSE WE CARE", Retired Airforce Col. Lynn Guenther
Retired Air Force Col. Lynn Guenther - American Legion Post #22, Hood River
Master of Ceremonies

If you happened to have a emergency responder scanner while in the Gorge and have it tuned to the Hood River County frequency you would of heard an awesome announcement the evening prior to the rally and the morning of the rally that echoed through the airways saying, "Those Fire Department members who will be participating in the "Standing Strong For Our Heroes" Rally, please have your apparatus arrive at 1PM, Overlook Park, Downtown Hood River, official dress required."

You could feel the excitement building as each fire station's engine roared through downtown Hood River on the way to Overlook Park to honor their fellow brothers and sisters in service to our safety and our nation's safety. When asked to participate, every Hood River Valley Fire Chief replied, "We would be honored!"

GHC would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hood River American Legion Post #22 and Move America Forward for coming to our community and putting together the "Standing Strong For Our Heroes Rally".

Below is a selection of pictures that fellow GHC members or community members have submitted to GHC. Thank you!
Members of the Patriot Guard Rider's Color Guard look on as the Oregon National Guard Hood River Unit begin the rally with the raising of America's Flag. In the background is SFC Gary Norris from the local National Guard Unit. The Naval picture proudly displayed on the stage is of Hood River's Home Town Hero Marc Allen Lee who was the first Navy Seal who died defending our freedoms during a 2006 combat mission.

Each of the five Hood River Valley Fire Departments were present; Hood River, West Side, Pine Grove, Odell and Parkdale. After the opening ceremonies, each engine company was introduced and they proudly blared their sirens in support for our troops!

Sending out a huge thanks to the Parkdale Fire Department for bringing down their brand new engine. They received the engine the afternoon before and worked hard to get it ready for the rally the next day.

The Patriot Guard Riders took the stage to tell the rally goers about their organization and how proud they are to support our nation's troops and Veterans.

GHC members manning the concession stands. Sending out special thanks to Kiyokawa Orchards for supplying GHC with apples.

Thanks to everyone who came to show their support to our military Heroes.


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