Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reach out to Veterans - By Wasco County Deputy Lane Magill

This column was published shortly after Veterans Day in The Dalles Chronicle that was written by Wasco County Chief Deputy Lane Magill on behalf of our nation's veterans. Mr. Magill is visiting Arlington in the near future and will take grave rubbings of 15 Heroes that will be framed and presented to their families. He is also helping to plan a hunting trip this fall for some of our combat veterans and is a true example of how emergency responders can reach across professional lines to help one of their own...

Wasco County, Oregon Chief Deputy Lane Magill

Reach out to Veterans
By Wasco County Chief Deputy Lane Magill

As many of you may know or may not know, November is what we in the law enforcement business consider, "Veteran's Month." As I was reflecting about this subject I wanted to write an article giving you, the general public, an idea of what veterans have to go through, as well as providing information so you can assist a veteran in need. I would encourage all of you to read this article completely as I hope it compels you to become involved with those members of the community who have served and are currently serving in our armed services.

On a cool afternoon in October of 2005, I was working in the Patrol Division with the Wasco County Sheriff's Office when I was dispatched to Mid-Columbia Medical Center. I was told by the dispatcher there was a male subject in the emergency room on a Police Officer Hold for wanting to hurt himself.

Upon arrival at MCMC, I was led to the patient's room and introduced to Brian Leavitt. According to reports, Brian had talked about committing suicide and was awaiting an evaluation from staff of Mid- Columbia Center for Living.

While at the hospital I struck up a conversation with Brian and inquired as to why he would want to hurt himself. Brian indicated he had been struggling with these types of thoughts for the last three to six months and "just wanted help." He indicated to me he was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the U.S. military. He said the readjustment to civilian life had been pretty hard and during this time he had lost his relationship with his girlfriend. He also told me he had asked numerous times for assistance with his suicidal thoughts from the Veteran's Hospital in Portland but was told they did not have any "openings" to speak with someone for at least one month

As I listened to Brian's story about serving our country and then returning home, I couldn't help but feel some of his pain. Although I'm not a veteran myself, I felt it was my obligation to assist Brian to the best of my abilities. I felt he had served our great country and sacrificed his personal life to make sure I could be free and safe to live here.

While at the hospital I asked Brian if he had the phone number for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Portland. He provided me with the phone number he had been using and I called. When I reached the switchboard I requested to speak with a member who would know Brian's situation. I explained Brian's circumstances and wanting to hurt himself. The person at the VA hospital advised they were aware of Brian's current circumstances but said they did not have any staffers available to speak with Brian if he came to Portland. They additionally told me Brian had an appointment approximately one month later.

I explained to them that Brian would probably not make it for a month and needed help immediately. Again I was advised by the staff member there was nothing they could do. I told them I would be willing to drive Brian to the hospital if they could just see him. Not to repeat myself but I was told there was nothing they could do for at least a month. I hung up the phone discouraged the VA could do nothing for a person who had sacrificed so much for his country.

Less than five months later Brian took his own life.

On March 28, 2012, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop sponsored by the Oregon National Guard for the sole purpose of learning about returning military veterans, and the effects of being in the military. The subjects covered during this training event included reintegration, criminal activity, domestic spouse/family issues, financial problems, job selection, and veteran suicides. As I went through these classes I learned a lot of things that I feel would be beneficial to the citizens of Wasco County concerning military veterans.

Here are some interesting statistics with military veterans that everyone should know. This is a limited list of the issues facing all veterans:

*There are 23.8 million veterans living in the US. That's almost 10% of the adult population.

* 1.2 million or 0.5% of the US population is currently active-duty military.

* Twenty to 30% of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Only half of these seek treatment. And of those, less than half complete treatment.

* The Army estimates that the total number of members from all branches of service afflicted with PTSD may currently be nearing 500,000.

* Eighteen veterans will commit suicide today. Although only 1% of Americans have served in the military, former service members represent 20 percent of all suicides in the US.

* Young male soldiers commit suicide at twice the national average. Young female soldiers are three times the national average.

* Oregon and Washington veterans are five times more likely to commit suicide than the general US population.

When reading some of these statistics it becomes very clear our veterans, not only out of the service but those returning, have real challenges facing them in the civilian life. However not all is lost with our veterans and there are a number of resources available to assist those who are having difficulties in the listed areas.

In an effort to make sure our veterans have services available to them, the sheriff's office would like to provide some information to the community about how to assist our veterans, whether they are returning from active duty or retired from the military.

As told in Brian's story, one of the main issues veterans face is suicide. The causes of this can be attributed to PTSD as well as having to readjust to civilian life. It has been learned there is a real shortage of medical professionals to assist veterans in this area and, based on that, I believe it is our duty as citizens to step up to the plate and assist in any way possible to stop this trend.

If you know a veteran struggling with thoughts of suicide or other issues, please get involved. By becoming involved you may be the link that keeps the chain from breaking. I have included a list of resources for military veterans who need assistance with areas of their life:

* Military OneSource Counseling: Free of charge and available 24 hours per day, seven days a week at 1-800-342-9647 or 800-3429-6477* (*overseas country access codes can be found online). Experts can assist with problem solving, coping with stress, financial management, family issues, marital communications, dealing with family separations, parent child communications, combat stress, deployment and reunion, crisis situations, grief and loss.

*Oregon Military Assistance Helpline, 1-800-511-6944.

* Suicide Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, press #1.

* OR National Guard Reintegration Team, 1-888-688-2264.

Several days after Brian committed suicide I received a phone call from his sister telling me he had taken his own life. I must admit, I see and hear a lot of bad and discouraging news being in the law enforcement profession, but this was one of the most difficult phone calls I have ever received. Brian's sister and I cried over the phone with the sadness of Brian's passing but during this conversation we both agreed, "Let us try and turn this into a positive thing." As time has gone by the pain has eased with the loss of Brian, but the memory of how he suffered has never left me. It will be a memory I will never forget and I made a promise to myself and Brian's family I would find a way to help our returning and existing veterans cope with the trials they face here in our communities.

Remember, our veterans are the reason we can live free in this great country and they have earned our respect and provision of all the resources they need to succeed.

If you know a service member who is in need of assistance you can always call the Wasco County Sheriff's Office at 541-296-5454. All deputies carry an information packet with them while on duty so these resources can be hand delivered to the veteran in need. Additionally, Veterans Packets can be picked up at your local libraries, community centers, some fire departments and the Veterans' Service office in The Dalles, 201 Federal Street.

If you have any questions or ways you would like to get involved please feel free to call me at 541-506-2592 for assistance.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gorge Heroes Club Receives Toys For Hood River Oregon National Guard Children


The Gorge Heroes Club is honored to be the recipient of toys from this years Les Schwab and Portland's Fox 49 Toy Drive.  Pictured here, is one of the units from the Hood River Oregon National Guard that will be receiving some of the 100+ toys that were donated to GHC for our Warrior's children this holiday season. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet Oregon National Guard Member Dr. Mary Deighton

By RaeLynn Ricarte - The Dalles Chronicle

Dr. Mary Deighton, new to The Dalles, did not follow the path of most physicians from medical school into a clinical setting; she took a detour to Iraq in 2010 to save the lives of wounded warriors.

Deighton left active duty military service in July after deciding it was time to return to the gorge, where she grew up. She relocated from Colorado Springs, Colo., near her former duty station of Fort Carson, to The Dalles and is now working for Mid-Columbia Medical Center and treating patients at Columbia Hills Family Medicine.

“My grandmother worked at The Dalles General Hospital and my parents graduated from high school in The Dalles before settling in Hood River so this is home,” she said. “When I was in Iraq, I just felt this incredible call to be back here so the opportunity to work in this community is very welcome.”

Deighton hadn’t even finished unpacking boxes before she signed up to serve in the Oregon National Guard, where she retains the rank of major. She will train one weekend a month in Salem with other citizen soldiers in the medical profession.

“I just wasn’t quite ready to leave the military,” she said of that decision. “Everybody I went to Iraq with is now in Afghanistan and I felt like this is one way that I could continue to do my part.”

William Hamilton, vice-president of medical affairs for MCMC, is a Navy veteran and said the wealth of experience that Deighton gained from her service was one of the reasons she was hired. He said it became obvious during the interview process that she was a people-person and would work well with both patients and staff. MCMC has more than 80 providers– including physicians and other specialists -- in its health care system.

“Mary has roots here and that is always very important to us as we look to bring in new providers from a longevity and stability perspective,” said Hamilton. “She knows the area and was enthusiastic about joining our organization. I think being here will really help her grow into her role as a primary care provider for our community.”

In January, Deighton was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for risking her own life to pull an injured man from a burning vehicle that had overturned during a wreck near Fort Knox, Kenn., a base she was visiting. That medal was added to the Bronze Star she received during her one-year deployment for delivering outstanding service to 4,300 soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Her role in Operation Iraqi Freedom was to provide physical and mental health care for the troops and she supervised the activities of seven physician’s assistants, six doctors and 243 medics.

Although Mary is proud to have earned decorations during six years on active duty, but she is ecstatic about being granted ownership of Major Aspen, the retired service dog who was her “battle buddy.”

Deighton found Aspen, a mixed-breed dog, in a shelter and arranged for her to receive several months of specialized training so she could provide comfort and care to injured or depressed soldiers. The canine started her military career with the name Iron Maiden and was assigned the rank of sergeant because her handler was a specialist and, by Army protocol, service dogs have to hold a higher rank. Deighton said that custom assures the dog gets top treatment because, to do less, can earn the soldier disciplinary action for disrespecting a superior.

When Iron Maiden’s original handler broke his ankle and couldn’t deploy, Deighton, then a captain, took charge of the dog, who was immediately promoted to major. Her name was changed to reflect the renowned fall foliage from the state she represented. Several weeks after arriving in Iraq, Deighton was also promoted but Aspen didn’t get to move into a lieutenant colonel slot.

“She can salute and absolutely loved being in formation,” said Deighton. “Aspen’s orders stated that she was to lick soldiers into awareness of their surroundings if they are injured or if they are stressed.”

She said service dogs give soldiers something to love during long separations from their families so Aspen received ample attention after their March 2010 arrival in Iraq.

She said it was never a problem to get a flight from one base to another, no matter how busy the helicopter crew was, if Aspen was with her. The dog was even served ice chips by pilots, a treat in weather that topped 140 degrees in the summer that was usually denied to human passengers. The purpose of having ice onboard the craft was to cool down the pilots, who were mandated to wear heavy Kevlar protective gear during all transports.

The canine did not cope well with mortar attacks on the base – one time even becoming so distressed she vomited -- and still becomes highly nervous when she hears loud noises.

Three times during the deployment, Deighton was directly exposed to shock waves that left her disoriented and impaired her hearing for days.

“All of a sudden I was on the ground looking up and I remember being so mad because I was going to die that way,” she said about the explosion that occurred while she was visiting Garry Owen, an outpost on the border of Iraq and Iran.

She said learning how to cope with the injuries and loss of soldiers that she knew and worked with was one of the most difficult aspects of her time in combat. She was devastated to learn about the death of a fellow student from Baptist Christian School in Hood River, now known as Horizon Christian, where she received her early education. She had graduated two years behind Dale Goetz, who became an Army chaplain and also worked out of Fort Carson, Colo.

On Aug. 2, 2010, she was returning home for leave and ran into Capt. Goetz in Germany, where they were both waiting for flights; hers to the U.S. and his to Afghanistan, where he would start a second deployment.

“We hadn’t seen each other since high school and spent 45 minutes talking about our families and our service,” she said. “He was nervous and I tried to give him some encouragement and he reassured me that I would be fine.”

On Aug. 30, 2010, Goetz became the first chaplain to die in a combat zone since 1970, where U.S. troops were engaged in the Vietnam War. He had hitched a ride on a resupply convoy that was headed through the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan. Several hours later he and four other soldiers were killed by roadside bomb. He left behind wife, Christina and three young sons.

“That was tough, really, really tough,” said Deighton, who organized a memorial service for Goetz in his hometown of Hood River following his burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colo.

The dream of one day being a doctor stayed with Deighton through her years at California State University in San Marcos, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and during seven years when she worked as an insurance underwriter.

“I always knew it was what I wanted, I just didn’t have the confidence,” she said.

Deighton’s husband agreed with her pursuing that dream so she enrolled at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, completing the two-year master’s program in one year with a study emphasis on anatomy and neuroscience in preparation for medical school.

She was then accepted into the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine, and the family, which also included daughter Jessie, now 18, relocated to the East Coast.

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Deighton felt called to join the military and assist in national defense. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant during her second year of medical school.

Upon graduation in 2006, she became a captain and began her three-year residency at Fort Bragg Womack Army Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C., home of the Army’s largest family medicine program.

“Every resident handled all types of cases and our average work week was 100 hours,” said Deighton. “I had been able to coach my daughter’s soccer team and attend all of her activities during med school but for those three years, it was everything I could do to even make a game.”

She drilled for six weeks in trauma surgery techniques at the University of Cincinatti in Ohio, working under the leadership of a U.S. Joint Forces Command Surgeon, who made her run through endless battlefield scenarios.

“That was the single most important training to prepare me for Iraq,” she said.

Deighton remembers treating a soldier from an outpost in Iraq who had been shot in the buttocks by a sniper and then having that same individual end up in the hospital three months later with another bullet wound – this one in the right shoulder -- caused by the same shooter.

The strangest medical scenario she faced involved members of a Special Operation team who dropped in at Garry Owen to have two critically wounded comrades stabilized for further transport. The men wore unmarked uniforms so it was impossible to tell what branch of the military they were from.

“We had no idea they were coming; we just heard helicopters coming toward the landing pad (at the field hospital),” said Deighton. “There was Red Air that day, which meant no one was supposed to fly, so we were pretty surprised.”

She said one of the men was bleeding heavily from a deep kidney laceration and the blood bank on the base was too depleted to provide the transfusion he needed. When a Medevac was denied because of the weather she looked at her lieutenant and said, “If we don’t get this guy out of there, he’s going to die.”

Deighton said the lieutenant had been observing the men that he correctly guessed were Navy SEALS and noticed that one seemed to be directing the movements of the others. The junior officer went over to that individual and whispered in his ear that either a phone number had to be provided for someone who could help or one of his men was going to die.

“He gave the lieutenant a number and minutes after that call was made, a bird (helo) flew down and picked those guys up and took them off into the night,” she said.

The next day, the commander of her unit received a call of thanks from a Pentagon official for their care of the SEAL team.

“That happened right after I got there and I thought the whole tour was going to be like that – I’m thankful it wasn’t,” said Deighton.

It is time, she said, for life to be more peaceful. At the age of 41, she enjoys fishing horseback riding, archery – she was a state champion in high school – and plans on learning how to hunt. She is also trying to figure out how to get her duck, which was raised with chicken, to like water.

“Not sure what to do about that one,” she said.

Deighton looks forward to meeting other veterans and providing medical services to families in the community.

“My experiences in Iraq have made me very resilient and given me a great amount of empathy and compassion; I have become a really good listener,” she said.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gorge Heroes Club Hosts Veteran's Outreach Representative Cody Standiford From U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's Office

The Gorge Heroes Club will be hosting, Cody Standiford, veteran and active-duty outreach case manager for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, in The Dalles Wednesday, July 18, he will be available to meet with military families or veterans experiencing issues with benefits, etc. He can be reached for a private appointment that afternoon at (541) 306-0684. It will be held at The Dalles Oregon National Guard Armory. So, if any of you have any issues pertaining benefits, etc now is the time to set up an appointment to meet with Mr Standiford. Special thanks to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden for his continued support of our military Warriors.

Honored -
Your GHC

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hon. Greg Walden Presents Congressional Record Tribute To Warrior Kyle McCullough

Congratulations to Warrior Kyle McCullough for receiving a Congressional Record Tribute from Hon. Greg Walden. 

On behalf of the Gorge Heroes Club and the Warriors we support world-wide we would like to thank both Hon. Greg Walden and Warrior Kyle McCullough for your continued support.
Warrior Kyle McCullough receives his Congressional Record Tribute from Hon. Greg Walden

The Record Congressional Reads As Follows: 

Congressional Record

Proceedings and Debates of the 112th Congress, Second Session

House of Representatives

Hon. Greg Walden

Of Oregon

In The House Of Representatives

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to pay special tribute to Kyle McCullough. Kyle, a 28-year old Wasco County resident, is a former Army Special Forces soldiers who served this country with honor and distinction. In Ramadi in 2006, he fought in one of the toughest engagements our forces encountered during Operation Iraqi Freedom. And now Kyle is currently in the process of reenlisting in the Army.

While at home, his mind is not far from his comrades in harm’s way overseas. In recent conversation with his little brother, USMC 1st Lt Kristopher “Turf” McCullough, currently serving in Afghanistan he was asked: “Do people even remember that we’re over here?”

Kyle, as ever his nature, jumped into action. In May, Kyle walked a distance of 198 miles over eight days from his home in Dufur to the Oregon coast in Seaside to raise awareness for the troops. That’s an average of 24.5 miles every day, or two miles longer than the driving distance between Hood River and The Dalles.

During the trek, Kyle not only raised a few blisters on the bottom of his feet, but he also raised money for the Hood River-based Gorge Heroes Club, which provides care packages to deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the money Kyle raised, the Gorge Heroes Club will be able to provide 1,250 soldiers overseas with morale-boosting care packages from home.

Media throughout the northwest covered Kyle’s walk - and it was not lost on deployed servicemen and women overseas, either. Oregon National Guard Major Jack Gillentine, stationed in Kabul, said in a recent letter to the Gorge Heroes Club, “Thank you very much for the packages you sent us. Some of the non-perishable food goes on our trucks for missions when we cannot get to the chow hall. I especially wanted to say thank you to Kyle McCullough. I read this article and I appreciate the huge effort. Thanks for all you do.”

The Gorge Heroes Club supported more thank 5,000 troops last year alone. As a direct result of Kyle’s dedication and willingness to persevere through pain and exhaustion, troops deployed around the globe will continue to receive these much needed morale boosting care packages.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that my fellow colleagues join me in recognizing Kyle McCullough. He has earned the thanks of a grateful nation not only for his courage on the battlefield, but for his homefront support
of his fellow servicemen and women who every day put their lives on the line for our way of life.

Congressional Record

Hon. Greg Walden visits with Warrior Kyle McCullough and GHC member Bobbie Reisner after the Town Hall presentation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden To Recognize Warrior Kyle McCullough

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden with members of the Oregon National Guard, Hood River, Or Unit
Please join us at the Pine Grove Grange in Hood River County this Saturday, June 9, at 8 a.m. where U.S. Rep. Greg Walden will publicly recognize Kyle McCullough, our Army veteran, for his troop-support efforts. The town hall provides a great way for you to help thank Kyle for walking nearly 200 miles from Dufur to Seaside to raise money for our cause! He not only collected $3,500 in donations, but also boosted morale for active-duty service personnel in Afghanistan, who cheered his efforts and have benefited from the care packages that followed his week-long walk in May.

This is also a great opportunity for you to thank Rep. Walden for his steadfast support of America's men and women in uniform, veterans and their families. He will give a brief update on Oregon and the nation's capital at the one-hour forum so you can take advantage of the opportunity to ask any questions you might have.

Your GHC

Thursday, May 31, 2012

GHC Receives "Thanks" From 1-143rd Infantry Regiment - Rhode Island National Guard

Hello from Afghanistan!

My name is Jeremy Aucoin, and I am a US Army First Lieutenant, currently stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. My platoon just received your much needed care packages, and wanted to thank Kyle McCullough and the rest of the Gorge Heroes Club.

The platoon I lead is part of C Company, 1-143d Infantry Regiment, Rhode Island Army National Guard. We were recently were assigned to the Oregon National Guard 1186th MPs here in Kabul...just in case you were wondering why a bunch of Yankees got their hands on your care packages! Our mission here is to advise and mentor local police in the capital.

We really appreciate your dedication and support. The packages were a definite morale booster, not only because of the great snacks, but also because of the story behind them. Please pass along our gratitude to the club, and all that were involved.


Jeremy Aucoin, 1LT

1LT Aucoin,

It is our honor to be able to support you during your deployment.  We will forward your "thanks" onto Kyle McCullough.  He is an incredible Warrior - just as you and your entire unit are.  Please continue to know that we support your efforts to defend our freedoms 110% and please also convey our "thanks" to everyone in your unit.

Hugs from home!



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GHC Receives "Thanks" From Oregon National Guard 1186 MP

Gorge Heroes Club,

Thank you very much for the packages you sent us. Some of the non-perishable food goes on our trucks for missions when we cannot get to a chow hall. I especially wanted to say thank you to Kyle McCullough. I read the article and I appreciate his huge effort.

Thank you for all you do.  I would like to have you at our final formation if possible.


Jack Gillentine
William "Jack" Gillentine Jr
1186 Military Police Company
Oregon Army National Guard
Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan


Dear MAJ Gillentine,

The members of the Gorge Heroes Club take great pride in being able to support you and the members of the Oregon National Guard 1186MP Unit during your deployment.  We are sending to you our deepest appreciation for all your dedication and commitment in preserving our freedoms. 

We will be honored to be present at your final formation.


Terri Hansen, VP GHC

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bob Stone Freeway Autocenter Donates to GHC

Support our Troops Sale
Bob Stone Freeway Autocenter - The Dalles, Oregon

Subaru Memorial Day Weekend Sale-Abration!

Bob Stone will donate $100 to the Gorge Heroes-Club for every vehicle sold during this event!



Monday, May 21, 2012

Not On Our Watch - America's Mighty Warrior's Joins Efforts Against Motel 6

The Gorge Heroes Club received the following letter of support from America's Mighty Warriors Organization in response to the horrible treatment Warrior Kyle McCullough received from Motel 6 in Troutdale, Oregon during his mission to support his deployed Marine brother and his unit.  Please read on.....

Dear Gorge Heroes Club,
One of our missions at America's Mighty Warriors is to defend our defenders when there is an injustice. I take it very personally when our troops are dishonored and this one hits closer to home as Kyle is from where I raised my children and he was actually fighting in Ramadi when Marc died.

"We'll leave the light on for you" is a warm welcome that didn't apply to Army veteran Kyle McCullough, 28, when he arrived at Motel 6 in Troutdale, Ore., on May 8 after walking 75 out of 200-miles to raise public awareness about the need to boost troop morale in Afghanistan. He showed up at the motel on feet made sore by 10 blisters and the beginning of shin splints.

His room reservations for the night had been made by the Gorge Heroes Club, a pro-troop group serving the Mid-Columbia region. Kyle gave the manager his confirmation number but ended up being turned away after she refused to allow him to register without GHC faxing over a copy of their Visa debit card and the signature of the organization's president. That requirement was not stated when financial information was taken by the reservation center, nor was it listed in the confirmation email.

Instead of offering the former Green Beret, who is in the process of re-enlisting, a chair and making a phone call to GHC to get the matter resolved, the manager became rude so Kyle left the premises because he was exhausted and didn't want to get into an argument. He had tried to explain that the trip from Dufur to the Oregon Coast was to honor his brother, USMC 1st. Lt. Kristoffer "Turf" McCullough, 26, who is currently serving as a company commander in Afghanistan and other troops in harm's way. The manager was not interested in what he had to say and defensive about her actions when called by GHC President RaeLynn Ricarte later that night.

Arrangements were made over the telephone (the same as with Motel 6) at Comfort Suites that night and Kyle had to backtrack one-half mile on his sore feet to arrive there but was treated like a king. Despite adverse treatment by Motel 6, his spirits remained high. and he achieved his mission by arriving in Seaside about 6 p.m. on May 14.

Numerous phone calls by Raelynn of Gorge Heroes Club and myself have been made to Motel 6 and they have been given a chance to make this right and the last correspondence was "we will investigate and get back to you in 15 days." They weren't apologetic, remorseful and they just don't get it!

I need you to bombard them with phone calls and emails and share this email with all you know. Our men and women in the military are willing to give their lives fighting in the battlefields, willing to give their lives for you and I, and then they come home and are treated this way. NOT ON MY WATCH!!!!! Please I need your help to stand for Kyle.

Accor International (owns Motel 6 chain): (972) 360-9000

Tammy Horsley

Senior manager, customer care


Chief executive

Olivier Poirot


and the regional office, which oversees the Troutdale motel, is (469)-521-3000. The motel itself can be reached at (503) 665-2254.

On the positive front, please email Camp 18 at to thank them for providing a free dinner, dessert and ice pack for Kyle's ankles with the greatest of all possible attitudes.

Comfort Suites in Troutdale should also be thanked for taking such good care of Kyle after he was turned away from Motel 6 and can be reached at (503) 669-6500.

It is important that we let all parties know what we think about their support of our Hero or lack thereof.

Standing strong for our troops,

Debbie Lee

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Warrior Kyle Arrives At The Oregon Beach

By RaeLynn Ricarte, The Dalles Chronicle

Army veteran Kyle McCullough arrived in Seaside May 14, completing a 200-mile journey that was filled with pain from blisters and shin splints but also a surprising amount of kindness from complete strangers.

McCullough, 28, set out on May 5 on a walk that began in Dufur and was intended to public awareness about the need to support deployed troops and provide funding for the Gorge Heroes Club. The local group sends monthly care packages to members of the armed forces from the Mid-Columbia region, including Kyle’s brother, USMC 1st Lt. Kristoffer “Turf” McCullough, company commander of a combat unit in Afghanistan.

Although McCullough brought in about $3,500 for the cause, he said the trek became something of an ambassadorship.

“When I first came up with this idea, I did not know it would transform into something so big,” he said. “It went from being a small and local event to something that people across the state – and even the troops in Afghanistan – have taken note of. I’ve been able to see and experience things on this walk that I would never have encountered if I had driven.”

During his travels, McCullough received daily texts, emails and phone calls of encouragement from military families, including soldiers and Marines serving in Afghanistan. He was also provided with motivational messages from Marines in Okinawa, Japan, where his brother is stationed.

He was surprised by the number of motorists who honked to boost his morale and by the offers of help when he passed through or stopped in populated areas.

“I’ve seen the good in people as they waved when they noticed the flag in my pack, asked why I was walking and listened to my story. Sometimes they thought I was homeless and offered me rides, food and money,” he said.

On May 9, McCullough took time from his walk to meet with Monica McNeal, mother of USMC Lcpl. Eric Ward, 19, who died from an IED explosion on Feb. 21, 2010, in Afghanistan. McNeal, who resides in Redmond, Wash., was in Portland on a business trip and wanted to thank the soldier for also walking to help people remember the fallen. He agreed to wear a black reminder band that listed the date of her son’s birth and death during the remaining 100 miles of the trip.

McCullough carried the heroes club Homefront “Homey” Gnome on the walk and said many people approached him just to ask about the mystical creature and what it represented.

“I did this for so many reasons but it’s everyone who chose to notice what I was doing that made the difference. Oregon is really a remarkable place and when I go back to the Army, leaving this area and people will be something I’ll hate doing,” he said.

Elks Lodge 1748 in Seaside organized a celebration for McCullough near the marker for the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He then went to rest – and shower – in a condominium donated by Mark and Shari Freeman of Mosier but will return Thursday to The Dalles to help heroes club members pack boxes at 7 p.m. Thursday in The Dalles Armory, 713 Webber Street.

McCullough’s mother, Kim, said driving the route her son had taken to deliver supplies made her realize the depth of his determination and endurance.

“The drive made me tired, I can’t imagine walking it,” she said. “I am so proud of him! What a great ‘mom’ moment.”

McCullough, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is returning to military life in the near future and said the walk was good training for the Special Forces way of life.

“To achieve anything great you have to be willing to put something out there a little,” he said. “So, a little physical discomfort is nothing.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Walking For Troops

 USMC 1st Lt. Kristoffer "Turf" McCullough

By RaeLynn - The Dalles Chronicle

Army veteran Kyle McCullough, 28, a gorge resident, is literally walking his talk about supporting U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan.

By the end of the first week in May, McCullough, a former Army Special Forces operative, will set off on a 198-mile journey from Wasco County to Seaside on the Oregon Coast.

On Monday, he began visiting businesses in The Dalles and Hood River and asking them to support his venture by donating to the Gorge Heroes Club, a local troop support group.

"I don't care if someone gives me $5 or $10,000, whatever they have works," he said. "I know a lot of business owners in both of these communities so I don't think that I'll have any problem getting help from them."

All proceeds raised by McCullough will be donated to the heroes club, which is currently sending care packages to troops from the Mid-Columbia region, including his brother, USMC 1st Lt. Kristoffer "Turf" McCullough, 26, also a native of the gorge, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

"I wanted to do a walk and I was thinking about what organization I could do that for. I know the Gorge Heroes Club can use the funding and I want people to be more aware of what's going on over there so this was the right choice," he said.

McCullough was swayed toward doing something for troop support after his brother asked in a recent telephone conversation from the combat zone, "Do people really remember that we are over here?"

"I think about him every day and I know that is a huge morale booster to get packages that show the folks back home still care," said Kyle. "It means a lot when people say thanks and sending boxes is a tangible way to do that."

McCullough said there is a lot of ribbing that goes on between brothers when one is in the Army and the other a Marine. However, he said, all jesting aside, he is very proud of Turf and the responsibility he carries as the company commander of a Marine unit in Helmand Province.

"He might be a Marine, which makes him a little misguided, but I respect what he's doing," he said.

Donations made to the heroes club in support of McCullough's walk are tax deductible and can be left at the Hood River News, 419 State Street, The Dalles Chronicle, 315 Federal Street or the Y102 Studio of Haystack Broadcasting, 620 E. 3rd Street in The Dalles. Contributions can also be deposited in the heroes club account at CenterPointe Bank in Hood River, 2500 Cascade Ave., and The Dalles, 1100 West 6th Street.

McCullough, a former staff sergeant in the unit known as Green Berets because of their distinctive headgear, is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom with more than eight years of military service. He and his fellow soldiers were tasked with missions that often required them to live rough and do without amenities the American people take for granted.

"It was a huge cultural shock when I got home because the world had moved on and I was basically a year behind in everything going on," he said.

McCullough said America showed strong support for the troops after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and during the build-up to the war in Afghanistan and the months after ground operations began. He said a decade later, many people don't spare a thought in the course of a busy day for those still in harm's way.

"Military families are the ones supporting the troops but not the general populace and I think that needs to change," he said. "We shouldn't have only people with some connection to the military doing things for our troops; these families are already making a sacrifice."

His departure date next week is based upon the level of activity at the cherry orchard where he is now working, said McCullough.

He has given himself 10 days to make the journey but intends to do it in seven if nothing unforeseen happens. He has not yet decided whether to walk forest roads over the south side of Mount Hood or follow the Columbia River to Portland and then journey on main arterials.

On Monday, McCullough was leaning toward time in the wilderness and planning to travel light, with a water filtration system for hydration and protein bars, nuts and other high-energy foods.

He views the adventure as a new life challenge and training for a return to military life since he is in the process of re-enlisting.

Although McCullough has the training for many career options in the civilian world, he is returning to Special Forces because being a warrior is the best way for him to give back to the country he loves.

"Being a soldier is not just what I do, it is part of who I am," he said.

The Gorge Heroes Club plans to post updates about McCullough's progress on its Facebook page and The nonprofit email

Monday, April 23, 2012

Former Green Beret Warrior "Ready To Stride" For His Deployed Brother

Kyle McCullough, Former Green Beret

While we are all adjusting to the work week today, Kyle McCullough, a former Green Beret who is in the process of re-enlisting, is visiting businesses in The Dalles and Hood River to gain donations for his walk to the coast next week on behalf of the Gorge Heroes Club. McCullough, 28, is the brother of USMC 1st Lt. Turf McCullough, 26, who is currently serving in Afghanistan and one of the Heroes we support.

The elder brother decided to help GHC out before going back into the military because he thinks the work we are doing is important to the morale of the troops. During a recent phone call, he was asked by Turf, "Do people really remember that we're over here," and that statement made us the choice for beneficiary in this challenge that he had been thinking to take on.

GHC is working to get Kyle as much publicity as possible because this 198-mile hike should be as prosperous as possible. We are hoping to be able to get regular updates from him after sets off next week and makes progress on what he expects to be a seven to 10-day journey.

A Hero helping Heroes, doesn't get any better than that!

Please check back tomorrow to this site for a full story on this amazing journey!

Friday, April 20, 2012

GHC'S The Dalles Chapter Collecting Donated Items For Community Sale

The members of the The Dalles Chapter of GHC is currently collecting items for their upcoming Community Rummage Sale to be held at the Oregon National Guard Armory in The Dalles, Oregon on Saturday, May 19th.  Two drop off points have been set up in The Dalles.  Please contact us for drop off information/locations. 

GHC is a non-profit organization, so all your donations are tax deductible.  We have an entire Armory to fill, so your donations are greatly appreciated.  All proceeds will go towards GHC's Troop Support Programs.

We thank you and our Warrior's THANK YOU!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Gorge Heroes Club Schedules Community Rummage Sales For Troop Support

The Gorge Heroes Club is seeking donations for two upcoming Community Rummage Sales.  Do you, your club, church, business or organization have items to donate?  GHC has set up drop off points in the communities of Hood River and The Dalles.  GHC is a non-profit organizations, so all your donations are tax deductible. 

Event Information:

GHC Hood River Chapter Community Rummage Sale
Saturday, March 24th from 8AM to 5PM
Hood River National Guard Armory - Hood River, Oregon
Donations may be dropped off starting Friday, March 23rd at Noon at the back entrance to the Armory.

GHC The Dalles Chapter Community Rummage Sale
Saturday, May 19th from 8AM to 5PM
The Dalles National Guard Armory - The Dalles, Oregon

If you need to drop items off early, please drop us an e-mail at:
And we will provide you with drop off locations in both communities.

All proceeds from the event will go towards troops support programs.

We thank you and our Warriors thank you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gorge Heroes Club Sends Support To Marines In Afghanistan

The Gorge Heroes Club would like to thank it's members and community supporters for helping GHC purchase dual-fuel stoves, cooking utensils and food to send to a group of Marines stationed in a remote outpost in Afghanistan. 

GHC received word that this unit had not taken any showers in over three months or had a way to cook hot meals.  So, GHC rallied their members and community supporter to supply the unit with stoves that they can cook hot meals with and to also heat water for hygiene purposes.

GHC is happy to report the stoves have arrived and the Marines are delighted to receive them!

We thank you and our Warriors thank you! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oregon National Guard 1186 MP Unit Receives Support From GHC

The shipments have arrived! The Gorge Heroes Club received  a huge "Thanks" from the members of the Oregon National Guard 1186MP Unit for the monthly care packages GHC sends to the unit that is currently stationed in Afghanistan.  

Oregon National Guard 1186MP Unit on patrol in Afghanistan.

GHC is honored to be able to send you support from home!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GHC's Warriors Receive Happy New Year's Cards From Cape Horn-Skye Elementary

  Many thanks to the Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School in Washougal, WA they are awesome! Our Warriors will love them!

These awesome cards will be sent out in our January shipment of monthly troops care packages!