Local Guard unit makes us proud

By Observer editorial September 23, 2010 02:54 pm
For the second time this decade we have bid adieu to our local National Guard unit as the soldiers head off for a year-long stint in Iraq.

About 4,000 people turned out at Community Stadium for the deployment ceremony, followed by the soldiers’ departure in multiple buses along a yellow ribbon-decorated Adams Avenue. Though the war in Iraq and the United States’ role in it have changed dramatically since the 3/116th’s first deployment, the soldiers are still headed into harm’s way and our thoughts, hopes and prayers will be with them for the coming year.
Nothing stirs a community’s heart and sense of pride more than seeing its service men and women taking up the call to action — except, maybe, when they return from battle. But the sense of duty, responsibility and patriotism that Guardsmen share is impressive. And these Guardsmen do this on a regular basis year in and year out, never knowing exactly when — or even if — they will be pressed into full-time service. They do it because they care.

Many families are being impacted by the current deployment. The community must do everything it can to rally around these families over the course of this next year.

Though the U.S. mission in Iraq has changed and is no longer based on combat, the Guardsmen still are headed into harm’s way. The 3/116 will be providing protection to convoys in a country still rife with insurgency and uncertainty. It remains a dangerous place.

The unit headed from La Grande to Boise and then on to Mississippi, where training will continue. Sometime in November the unit will be sent to Iraq, where it will remain until next fall.

The Observer will keep the community informed of what our citizen-soldiers are up to in Iraq. Pat Caldwell, a veteran newspaperman and member of the 3/116, will be sending stories and photos to
The Observer on a regular basis throughout the deployment, just as he did during the unit’s recent annual training in Idaho.

Members of the 3/116 can rest assured that their community is behind them every step of the way. Though they’ll be stationed half way around the globe, we’ll be with them in spirit — and they with us.