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Oregon National Guard deploys to fight wildfires

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Pousson, 142nd Maintenance Group, leads a group of Oregon National Guard Airmen departing Portland Air National Guard Base in support of OPLAN Smokey. OPLAN Smokey requires Airmen to be ready at a moment’s notice to help with statewide wildfire relief efforts.

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Pousson, 142nd Maintenance Group, leads a group of Oregon National Guard Airmen departing Portland Air National Guard Base in support of OPLAN Smokey. OPLAN Smokey requires Airmen to be ready at a moment’s notice to help with statewide wildfire relief efforts.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Twenty Airmen with the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Wing have departed Portland to help battle wildfires across the state.

This effort by the Oregon Military Department is part of Operation Plan (OPLAN) Smokey to fight wildland fires with a combined force of Guards members, firefighters and emergency operators.

Oregon Air National Guard Master Sgt. Bernard Untalan, 142nd Wing OPLAN Smokey coordinator, says the deployments have a profound effect on the Airmen.

"OPLAN Smokey is a tremendous and meaningful opportunity for our Citizen-Airmen to assist our state during its most dire hour," Untalan said. "The impact of their work protects lives, structures and thousands of acres of beautiful Oregon land."

The Airmen are among 115 Oregon National Guardsmen from the Army and Air National Guard requested by the Oregon Department of Forestry Aug. 11 to help fight the Rough Patch and Bootleg fires.

Oregon Army National Guard UH-60 and HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and crews are also helping extinguish fires. So far this year, Oregon National Guard helicopters have dropped more than 225,000 gallons of water on wildfires throughout the state.

Other Guardsmen support efforts in the Joint Operations Center and two 116th Air Control Squadron Airmen are providing air control support at a helipad in Roseburg.

Normally, OPLAN Smokey tours can last up to two weeks before the Guard members are redeployed back to their home stations or replaced by other Guardsmen to continue the mission.

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