I remember well the two times our ship pulled into San Diego after an extended WestPac tour. The first time, in 1973, while we had been gone for just over 9 months, we had really not done anything major. We had made deliveries in Japan, Korea, Guam, Okinawa, and the Philippines and visited some pretty cool ports of call but all were just business as usual. While the war raged in Vietnam, nothing was needed and we remained on a stand bye status the entire time.
In 1973, when we pulled into the harbor, there were various signs along the way showing they knew we were coming, I believe something was hanging from the Coronado bridge, and the pier was loaded with people, flags, and a band. I remember the welcome feeling that I felt even though none of those people were there for me.
Fast forward just two years. It was 1975 and our ship had just played major parts in the evacuation of civilians and the pull out of Saigon. All hands on board were proud of our part albeit small and we had even won a couple of awards that were proudly displayed on the side of the ship's stack.
But this time, as we floated into the harbor, no signs were displayed, no flags were unfurled, and when we arrived at the pier, no band and just a few relatives were standing their waiting for us. It was business as usual and I remember the empty pit that it left in my belly. We felt like no one cared. Now, we got over it quickly and went about our business enjoying the fact that we were home.
Next week, we have troops coming home here. I remember well the send off at Mt View High School even though our Governor did not do his part so well. Now it is time for us to welcome them home and an opportunity for us here in Central Oregon to show them how much we appreciate them and their service.
The following PSA says it all. I know that the people of Central Oregon will step up to the plate and show them how much we love them and are thankful for their sacrifices. I know that I will be there:
The community is invited to participate in celebrating the arrival of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers – 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team to our area on Sunday April 18.
"This is an opportunity for Central Oregonians to show their appreciation and line the streets with "Welcome Home!" signs and wave to the 350 soldiers being transported by buses from Ft. Lewis, WA," stated Rabbine Harpell, Bend resident and organizer.
The soldiers will be reunited with families at a Demobilization Ceremony scheduled at the Vince Genna Stadium at 1pm.
The community is also invited to attend the Demob ceremony and Change of Command 1-82 Cavalry presented by Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski and Major General Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General Oregon.
Organizers are spreading the word through phone trees and e-mails to schools, businesses, and organizations inviting everyone to display flags and banners and to gather on Main Street in Sisters at 9:45 am and on Wall Street in downtown Bend at 10:15 am to show an outpouring of well wishes and support to the soldiers as they drive by.
The Sisters VFW and American Legion Posts will be lining Cascade Avenue with American flags on Saturday morning April 17, to begin the weekend recognition of the soldiers return. The City of Bend will post the Bend Parade of flags in downtown along Newport Bridge, Wall Street and Bond Street in their honor.
"Camp Fire USA kids are very excited. They are putting all their heart and love into making signs to thank and welcome home our troops," said Trisa Lovejoy, CampFire USA Group Leader. Signs will be carried by the children as they wave to the bus loads of soldiers traveling through Sisters and Bend.
The Oregon Army National Guard soldiers represent the nearly 2,700 troops with the 41 IBCT who have spent the last year in Iraq conducting missions such as convoy security, force protection, and assisting with the developing infrastructure.
Date: April 18 -
Map of Bus Route From Ft. Lewis WA- SANTIAM PASS - I-5 South to Salem (173 mi)• Take exit 253 for OR-22 E towards Detroit Lake/Bend (80.3 mi) Continue onto OR-126/US-20 E (47.2 mi)•
ETA – ARRIVAL IN SISTERS – 9:45 am
ETA - ARRIVAL IN BEND – 10:30 am•
Remain on 20/ HWY 97 S
DOWNTOWN BEND• Turn right at NE Greenwood Ave•
Turn left at NW Wall St•
Turn left at NW Arizona Ave
MOVEMENT TO STADIUM• Continue on NW Arizona Ave•
Turn right at NW Hill St 0.1 mi– (State HWY 372)–
Proceed under underpass•
Continue onto NE Scott St, 0.2 mi•
Continue onto SE 2nd St, 0.4 mi– (slight right)•
Turn left at SE Wilson Ave, 0.3 mi–
Cross HWY 97 Business•
Turn right onto SE 5th St
ARRIVE AT VINCE GENNA STADIUM•
Turn right on SE 5th St
DEMOBILIZATION CEREMONY AND CHANGE OF COMMAND
1-82 CAVALRYSUNDAY APRIL 18, 2010 1:00 PM
VINCE GENNA STADIUM4
10 SW ROOSEVELT STREET