Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gorge Heroes Club Sends Christmas Cheers To Our Warriors

The members of GHC in both communities of Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon held their Holiday Box packing for our Hometown Heroes. GHC send holiday cheer to 172 Warriors this holiday season!

GHC would like to thank the it's members and community supporters for helping send holiday cheer to our Warriors this holiday season.  

Holiday Box Packing and WAAAM in Hood River.  Each Warrior GHC supports received a hand made fabric stocking made by GHC's Sewing Team Members, wrapped in tissue paper and full of goodies!

GHC members and community supporters signing the cards each Warrior received.

The holiday goodies!

GHC would like to thank it's members and community supporters for their continued support of our Hometown heroes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oregon National Guard Alpha Company Invites Community To "Operation Warm Welcome"

Guns, music and chili dogs!

Eclectic event offers something for everyone with a special appearance from Santa himself!

By RaeLynn Ricarte - The Dalles Chronicle

Alpha Company soldiers invite community members to visit The Dalles Armory on Saturday, Dec. 3, and view an exhibit of weapons and gear that are carried by troops on the battlefield.

The display will include everything from assault rifles to a rocket grenade launcher and the heavy Kevlar vest that is worn for protection in combat zones. Soldiers will be present from 10 a.m. to noon to explain how each item works and answer questions.

"We want to provide people with an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the recent deployment of our unit and the role these soldiers have played in Operation Iraqi Freedom and, more recently, Operation New Dawn," said SFC Benjamin Hall.

He recently returned with the 3rd Battalion 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team from a 10-month tour of duty in Iraq. He is now overseeing operations at the local armory with the transfer of SFC Alex Porter to battalion headquarters in La Grande.

The Gorge Heroes Club will be selling baked goods and chili dogs at the armory on Dec. 3 in support of Operation Warm Welcome, which is intended to help soldiers without jobs and, in some cases, a place to live. Area residents are urged to make monetary donations that will provide the soldiers with shelter during the cold winter months or contribute coats, sizes large through 2X, sleeping bags, food and business clothing for interviews.

"The unemployment rate for veterans right now is almost twice as high as that for civilians and we believe the patriotic thing to do is to give back to these soldiers who were sent to war by their country," said Terri Hansen of Hood River, vice-president of the heroes club.

A silent auction will take place on the morning of Dec. 3 and the featured items include two gift certificates for a three-night stay at a Newport Bay condo, ski passes at Mount Hood Meadows, back packs, a DVD player, pottery and a hand-loomed rug.

Holiday care packages for troops serving in Afghanistan will be assembled in the armory at 11 a.m. Saturday and people are invited to help fill those boxes. Daphne Blanchard, mother of two Army soldiers, has designed holiday cards that area residents can sign if they come a little earlier. Snack and hygiene items for the boxes that are sent to military units in Afghanistan each month will also be gratefully accepted.

To add to the festivities of the day, The Dufur Boys have donated their services and will be performing Christmas and patriotic music in exchange for a hot bowl of chili prepared by Carol Roderick of The Dalles.

"This is definitely a program with something for everyone and a great way for people to say 'Thank You' to our troops and help make their holidays a little merrier," said Roderick, a member of the heroes club who is helping to organize the event.

For more information email

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trunk-or-Treat For The Troops

By RaeLynn Ricarte - The Dalles Chronicle

A group of Dalles Wahtonka High School students will be passing out candy to children on Halloween and also providing information about how their parents can make the holidays merrier for military personnel serving overseas.

National Honor Society members have teamed up with the Gorge Heroes Club to collect items for care packages that will be filled on Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11. These boxes will then be shipped off to soldiers and Marines at primitive outposts on the front lines in Afghanistan.

“I’m just grateful for all of their service and this is a way we can give back,” said Logan McDowell, a senior and officer for the student-led organization who is organizing the event.

He and other members of the honor society will be handing out informational cards about the donation drive for the troops at their Trunk-or-Treat event on Oct 31 in downtown The Dalles. The teens will have vehicles decorated in themes, such as the Batmobile and a Clown Car, and a trunk full of candy to give to children trick-or-treating at local businesses from 3-5 p.m. on Halloween.

A collection is taking place in Hood River on Halloween, with high school students passing out the same cards that provide donation information and refer people with questions to the online site or Facebook.

Logan said several members of his family are veterans and he has heard enough of their experiences to know that support from home is important to service members stationed overseas. He said community members are invited to help students with the troop support effort by dropping off snack and hygiene items at the schools’ front office, 220 E. 10th Street, for the next two weeks.

The list of treats most requested by the troops include individually packaged, nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, hard candy, fruit snacks, granola bars, fruit bars, dried fruit, cheese and crackers, cookies and peanut butter with crackers.

Hygiene items most sought by those in combat zones include wet wipes, body and hair wash, razors, shave gel (no aerosol cans), foot powder, hand sanitizer, anti-fungal foot cream, high black socks, Motrin, and hand sanitizer.

Tegner Weiseth, the honor society advisor, served in the U.S. Coast Guard for seven years and said that, having an understanding of military life, he was supportive of the students’ decision to take on the project. He said the teens will be writing letters to the troops, either individually or as a class, and including these in the boxes they fill.

“My interest in this is as a veteran. I was only 18 when I enlisted and getting a care package from home really meant a lot to me,” he said.

Weiseth said if students get strong participation from the community, he plans to encourage Trick-or-Treat for the Troops as an annual activity

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homey Gnome's Bro Perishes in Training Exercise

Gergnome getting ready for a mission - putting on his "Gnome Dome"

It is with great regret that we report a third casualty within the ranks of our combat gnomes. Gergnome was last seen experimenting with explosives as a GIED and practicing his ambush techniques with 2nd Platoon of the Oregon National Guard 1186th MP Company that is under the command of 2nd Lt. Brian Fike.

A spokesperson for the Oregon National Guard would say only that Gergnome will receive posthumous decorations for his valor, 'can-do' attitude and ability to boost the morale of soldiers in his unit. 

The platoon leader's casualty report stated: "A prototype restraint for micro soldiers was being field tested but failed initial live tests and engineering data is being reviewed to prevent further tragedies."

Gergnome was known to friends and family members as a gnome with a tough attitude who readily called people up short (no pun intended) for wrongdoing but was also willing to go the extra mile for those he cared about, although it took him longer than most to get there. His favorite phrase was "moto" and he lived by that creed every day of his undersized life.

According to reports, Gergnome was greatly respected by soldiers within the unit and was expected to deploy to Afghanistan later this year with his human comrades.

Upon learning of Gergnomes death, Homey Gnomes two younger twin brothers have requested reassignment to the 1186 MP Unit to carry on Gergnomes mission of boosting troop morale.

-The following is a  photo tribute of Gergnome's last mission and Memorial Service-

Gergnome training with the 1186 MP Unit - Learning combat techniques.

And more combat techniques.

Gergnomes last mission - He loved watching things get blown up!

Gergnomes Memorial Service

Gergnome receiving honors.

Gergnome, small and mighty as he was - received the largest casket they could find.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Homefront "Homey" Gnome and the 13 other members of the grief-stricken family, who also lost two brothers in Iraq this summer.

Those wishing to send condolences to Homey Gnome and his family can do so at the following address:

Homey Gnome
1767 12th Street #113
Hood River, Oregon 97031

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome Home Oregon National Guard 3-116 CAV

With cheers and tears of joy, families from across the state greeted Oregon National Guard soldiers upon their return home during the past two weeks. The 2,700 members of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team included more than 500 soldiers from Oregon, with 135 from The Dalles and 35 from Hood River. These units deployed to Iraq in November of 2010 after spending two months of training at Fort Shelby, Miss. They were flown to Fort Lewis, Wash., between late August and early September for medical exams and the processing of paperwork before being bused to the armory nearest their respective homes.

During the past year, GHC provided monthly care packages for 700 heroes, including more than 500 3-116 CAV soldiers from the Gorge, Pendleton, Hermiston, Le Grande, Baker and Redmond.

The Gorge Heroes Club is truly honored to have supported the Guard during their deployment. We would like to thank all the community members from Hood River and Wasco counties who stood on the I-84 overpasses after receiving only a moment's notice to welcome our warriors home as they passed through these communities. We would also like to extend a huge, "THANK YOU" to the First Responders from both counties that met the buses carrying soldiers from the Hood River and The Dalles units and proudly escorted them from the freeway to the cheering crowds of supporters and family members waiting at the armory's.

~The following is a collection of photo's of their WELCOME HOME~

Ah.... first hugs! Spec Chris Haskins of 3-116 CAV, F Co from Hood River gets a hugs welcome home hug!

"Returning the Special Good Luck Coin" - Spc Haskins member of the Oregon National Guard 3-116 CAV, Fox Co from Hood River returns a lucky coin given to him on the day he deployed a year ago from Hood River resident Dyrk Pritchett as friends and family members look on.  Welcome home Spec Haskins!

"Welcome Home Dad" -  By Branden Fletcher

"Soldier Husband Hero" - By Wendy Barge'

"Welcome Home Warrior" -  by McKaley Wafford

"Hugs and Smiles" -  by Angi Landreth

"We are so proud of you" - by Debbie Noland

"My Son. Hoorah!" by Kathy Wells

CSM Brunk Conley welcomes home soldiers as they depart the bus at The Dalles Armory.
Photo courtesy of The Dalles Chronicle

Spec John Winters from Alpha Co, The Dalles receives a welcome home hug from his Dad, Scott Winters. Photo courtesy of The Dalles Chronicle

Little Finnegan Sherburne from The Dalles cheers as he waits to give his Daddy a welcome home hug.
Photo courtest of The Dalles Chronicle

And.... My Daddy's Home!
Photo Courtesy of The Dalles Chronicle

If you have a "Welcome Home" picture you would like to add to this post, please e-mail it to:

Your GHC

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tribute To Hood River County Firefighters - We Salute You

During the Hood River County 9/11 Memorial, the Gorge Heroes Club paid tribute to the Hood River County Firefighters for their dedication and commitment to our safety and also to their continued support of their deployed military Brothers-In-Arm. 

Working with U.S Congressman Greg Walden, each of the county Fire Departments were awarded a certificate that read:

Flag flown over the United States Capitol

This certificate entitles the bearer to one U.S. flag flown over the United States Capitol at the request of
U.S. Congressman Greg Walden.

The flag has been dedicated in your honor because you have stepped forward to protect and serve American citizens in continuance of the tradition of heroism exhibited by firefighters on September 11, 2001, and military personnel in the decade since that tragedy.

The dedicated flags were flown over the United States Capitol on September 11, 2011 for each of the Hood River County Fire Departments.

The following pictures are of the 9/11 Memorial and Tribute to Hood River County Firefighters.

Preparations for the 9/11 Memorial and Tribute get underway at Anderson Tribute Center.  GHC would like to thank Anderson Tribute Center and their staff for their hard work in helping coordinate the event.

Homey arrives to pay tribute to our County Firefighters.

West Side Fire Department arrives with Engine 55.

West Side Crew: (L to R), Chaplain David Hancock, David Stolhand, Greg Clarke, Chuck Walston, Rachal Hansen and Gus Fletcher.

Hood River crews arrive.
Stabilizing Tower 3 - At the controls is Hood River Fire Department member Nathan Smith as Cpt McCrea looks on.

 Hood River City Fire Department Cpt Clay McCrea readies the Tower.

 Side view of Hood River City Fire Department's Tower 3 bucket.  In remembrance of the 343 Firefighters who were lost on 9/11/2001.

 West Side Fire Department member Rachal Hansen stands ready with the flag that will be flown on the bucket of Tower 3 during the service as Hood River Fire Department member Gary Stalling readies the ties.

 Hood River Fire Department member Nathan Smith, left and Gary Stalling right prepare the flag for the tower.

Up she goes! 

Flying PROUD! 

 Tower 1 flying our Nations Colors with PRIDE!

The ceremony began with a "Welcome" for Jim Trammell West Side Fire Marshall.

 West Side Fire Department Chaplain David Hancock leads service members in prayer.

 Posting of Colors by Oregon National Guard SFC Gary Norris and Hood River Fire Department Chief Wells.

 The Emergency Responder Role During Crisis was presented by Chief Devon Wells of the Hood River City Fire Department.

 Oregon National Guard SFC Gary Norris thanked the local Hood River County Fire Fighters for their dedication and commitment to our safety and for their support.  SFC Norris told the crowd, "Our county firefighters are true heroes".

 On behalf of the U.S. Congressman Greg Walden, the Oregon National Guard and the Gorge Heroes Club, SFC Norris presented the above certificates to representatives from each of the Hood River County Fire Departments.

 After the ceremony, Homey greeted those at the service.  Pictured here (L to R) are GHC member Emily Hansen, West Side EMT/Firefighter Rachal Hansen and Oregon National Spec Ryan Young.
 The cake honoring Hood River County's finest!

 Cake, close up and side view.

 The Gorge Heroes Club would like to thank members of the Boy Scout Troop #282 and Troop Master Jeff McCaw, pictured above for serving as Ushers during the event. Here, they had just finished folding the flag after it was taken down from Tower 3.

All men were created equal,
then a few became firemen.......... Anonymous

 At the end of the service the Gorge Heroes Club presented them a gift of the following video:

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The Gorge Heroes Club, in partnership with Anderson’s Tribute Center, will honor firefighters from Hood River County on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the east coast.

“Ten years ago 343 firefighters died trying to save the lives of American citizens after planes flown by terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. We planned this event to pay tribute to their sacrifices and out of recognition that the same level of dedication to public safety exists within our local fire departments,” said RaeLynn Ricarte, GHC president.

She said community members are invited to Anderson’s, 1401 Belmont Ave., at 6 p.m. Sunday for a short program that remembers 9/11 and the acts of heroism that took place on that tragic day. She said those attending will have an opportunity to thank area firefighters from six agencies and honor the 3,000 victims of the attacks and the 6,000 military personnel who have died in the two wars that followed that day.

“All too often our firefighters go without being thanked for stepping forward to risk their own lives to save others and we felt the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when memories resurface of lives lost in the line of duty, is the right time to pay tribute to our emergency responders,” said Jack Trumbull, owner of Anderson’s.

Firefighters will be attending from Pine Grove, Odell, Parkdale, West Side, Hood River and Cascade Locks departments. Refreshments will be served at the event and Oregon National Guard SFC Gary Norris will present, on behalf of military families and GHC, a special award to each agency that recognizes the dedication and professionalism of their respective crews.

The program will open with a welcome by Jim Trammell, fire marshal for West Side, and end with a reading of the emergency responder role during the crisis by Devon Wells, fire chief for Hood River. The National Anthem will be sung by vocalist Jo Herring of Hood River with accompaniment by Perry Cole. The Guard will post the colors and a video depicting the 9/11 timeline will be shown.

“I think it’s important that parents bring their children to this observance because 9/11 was the day that changed America forever and we need to never forget those who died and those who are fighting today to stop terrorists from being able to pull off another attack,” said Terri Hansen, GHC vice-president.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Gorge Heroes Club Gathers To Show Support For The Oregon National Guard 1186 MP As It Deploys

GHC, community and PGR members lining the overpass in support of the Oregon National Guard 1186 MP Unit.  Photo by GHC member Carol Roderick.
Members of Oregon National Guard 1186 MP unit got a welcome surprise as they passed through the City of The Dalles yesterday afternoon.  The Gorge Heroes Club invited members of the community to come and line the overpass to show their support for our Warriors who are being deployed to Afghanistan.

GHC planned the event but never shared it with the unit.  We wanted it to be a total surprise... and it was! Their supporters stayed on the overpass until every one of the 40+ unit vehicles had passed, spanning several hours.   GHC received thumbs up and a huge "You Rock" from the unit members and 2LT Fike. 

The Gorge Heroes Club is honored to be supporting the Warriors of the 1186 during their deployment. 

With pride,
Your GHC

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SGT Richard Chance of the Oregon National Guard 3-116 CAV Receives Combat Infantryman Badge

SGT. RICHARD CHANCE receives the Combat Infantryman Badge from Lt. Col. Phil Appleton at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Contributed photo Staff Sgt. Pat Caldwell

By Staff Sgt. Pat Caldwell

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The day Sgt. Richard Chance’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle crew ran out of water, the enemy did not arrive in the form of an improvised explosive device, but instead appeared as invisible waves of heat on a stretch of Iraqi roadway more than 7,000 miles from home.

Chance, a member of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, remembered the day well, even though the episode occurred two months ago.

“Coming back from [Victory Base Complex, Iraq] near Baghdad, the AC in our truck went out before we got out of the gate,” he said.

Chance, a resident of The Dalles, and his crew were suddenly enclosed in a 30,000-pound metal oven. The same armor that kept them safe from roadside bombs and small-arms fire was now burning hot.

“I figure in the truck, it was 150 degrees,” Chance said.

The crew, Chance said, did not have a lot of options. Their mission of escorting a logistics convoy was the number one priority. The mission came first, so they toughed it out.

“We went through four cases of water in 2.5 hours,” Chance said.

The air conditioning in Chance’s MRAP was fixed after the mission, but the episode underscores the harsh conditions soldiers from the 3rd Battalion deal with on a daily basis. Chance said air conditioning in an MRAP is crucial during the Iraq summer, when temperatures routinely hit 115 or 120 degrees during the day. But he said no amount of air conditioning can take the heat away.

“It doesn’t matter. You’re still going to sweat,” he said.

Chance, who came to live in The Dalles when he was eight years old, is one of the veterans in Alpha Company. Chance served with the 3rd Battalion when it first came to Iraq in 2004. He emerged from the 3rd Battalion’s first deployment with plenty of accolades. He earned a Bronze Star with V device, a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Badge during the battalion’s 2004-2005 deployment.

In June, Chance earned another honor. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge in the wake of a roadside bomb attack earlier that month. Chance received the honor during a ceremony at Joint Base Balad. The roadside bomb attack happened just after Chance returned from his leave.

“Yeah, welcome back to Iraq,” he said with a smile.

Chance said while the roads his company travels on during its convoy escort missions are still dangerous, the MRAPs proved to be a game-changer in terms of survivability for soldiers.

“The MRAPS, they are saving a lot of Joes,” Chance said.

Chance spent eight years in the U.S. Navy as a jet mechanic. He left the Navy, and after the deadly terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, he decided to get back into the fight.

“I found out the [3rd Battalion] was getting ready to deploy, and I joined,” he said.

With two tours of duty in Iraq under his belt, Chance secured the opportunity to see the strengths of the modern U.S. military. He has formed some definite opinions during two deployments, he said.

“I think we have the best military in the world, but that is because it is all volunteer,” he said.

Chance also said he believes his unit performed well while deployed. “I think Alpha [Company] has done well with the mission it got,” he said.

With his current deployment winding down, Chance said he plans to keep his crew vigilant. He also added there is a checklist of items he wants to complete when he returns home.

“I want to spend some time with my grandma in Baker City. Then go hunt elk, second season,” he said.
Congratulations SGT Chance! It has been an honor to have supported you during your deployment.

Your GHC