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Walden welcomes returning troops

161022-Z-OT568-028PENDLETON, Oregon – Last October, 59 Oregon National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 186th Aviation Unit left for Kuwait and Iraq. On Saturday, all 59 were welcomed home. One of those on hand for the ceremony was U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River).

“They really performed,” he said. “They moved 10 million tons or something of cargo. It’s just remarkable what they accomplished. They set incredible improvement standards for maintenance and reliability.”

Walden said that now that the soldiers’ work is done, it’s time for work to begin for the rest of the community.

“We need to help reintegrate them into the community because it has to be really hard,” he said. “You know, one day you’re in Kuwait for a year, and the next day you’re back in Pendleton. That’s a bit of a shock and you’re out of that whole environment.”

During their mobilization, the unit performed heavy helicopter airlift operations, transporting both personnel and equipment using CH-47F Chinook helicopters. At the demobilization ceremony Saturday, the Oregon National Guard rolled out the new F-model Chinooks for the Pendleton-based unit. The new choppers include updated electronics and cargo loading systems.

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