The flight of the Air National Guard four-engine C-130 began in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. Some of its stops included Lewiston and La Grande, where it picked up a dozen people.
A nine-passenger C-12 King Air aircraft brought people from Salem and The Dalles to La Grande, where those people also crowded into the webbed-backed canvas seats on the C-130.
Another C-130 flight originated in Pocatello, Idaho.
Both converged at Gowen Field at Boise. The base is home to the 116th Cavalry of the Army National Guard. Its 3rd Battalion is headquartered in La Grande.
Also there is the Idaho Air National Guard, Marine Corps Reserve and Navy Reserve, the 204th Regimental Training Institute, Homeland Security and the Civil Air Patrol.
The Air Guard included the 183rd Wing of the Apache attack helicopters.
The Air Guard’s Detachment of the 168th Air Wing of Blackhawk utility helicopters served in Kuwait.
Also there is the Air Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron of the A-10A Thunderbolt II (Warthog).
For tanks, Gowen Field’s pop-up target range is one of only six in the world.
Jack Johnson of Cove is the Area VI chairman of the Oregon Committee of the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve. He is seen here with an Apache Attack Helicopter at Gowen Field, Idaho. - Observer photos/GARY FLETCHER
One of the goals of the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve “Boss Lift” was to familiarize employers and community leaders with the vital role that the Guard and Reserve play in preserving national security.
Another is to acquaint people with how the Guard and Reserve train to respond to their community and their country in time of need.
Among those welcoming the guests was Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a former Guardsman.
Briefing the crowd was Maj. Gen. Lawrence Lafrenz, adjutant general of the Idaho National Guard.
In that first morning briefing, it was discovered that, unlike Decker who served in the Army in Korea, a majority of the 200 guests of ESGR had no military experience.
That was about to change. They would be introduced to several military things that the typical man on the street doesn’t see.
Over the next 1 1/2 days, they explored such equipment as Humvees, an M-3 Bradley fighting vehicle, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserves 7-ton truck and 70-ton M1-A1 Abrams tank, and an Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt (Warthog) jet that had seen combat.
They also got the feel of firing light weapons in a simulator, manned an Army Guard Abrams tank simulator, operated an Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt jet simulator and flew in a Blackhawk helicopter.
The guests also watched a JANUS exercise of computerized warfare. JANUS advantages include not burning gas and ammunition, or risking injuries in the field.
“Great,” “Amazing” and even “Awesome” were the guests’ reactions to the visit.
The technology was amazing, said one guest who was glad that the military had such a depth of information and technology at its disposal and was putting it to full use.
The systems and the people worked like a “well-oiled machine,’’ another guest said.
It was not your usual accommodations inside the C-130 transport aircraft. One person remarked that it was like being in a barn. The useable cargo space was actually 41 feet long and 10 1/2 feet high. It sat four rows of passengers lengthways on nylon seats with webbed backs. - Observer photos/GARY FLETCHER
Decker was impressed with the knowledge, proficiency and professionalism shown by the citizen soldiers who interfaced with the civilians.
“The people made the whole thing,” Decker said.
The visitors were told that they could ask questions of any of the personnel at any time, even when they were working.
Some of the military people were combat veterans.
“I think it’s a very worthwhile opportunity to see what they do,” Steve Wulf of Waste Management in Spokane said.
“I would definitely recommend it to anyone,” Decker concluded about the Boss Lift.