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Archives: Oct. 2008


Headquarters of 81st arrives at Camp Ramadi

The headquarters company of the Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade has arrived in Iraq.

The company will run day-to-day life at Camp Ramadi in central Iraq, said brigade spokesman Maj. Scott Taylor said.

Other units are expected to work convoy security.

"All is well and morale is high," Taylor wrote in an e-mail. "Good things are happening and our focus is fulfilling our obligation to manage the life support for the tenants of Camp Ramadi, among other things."

Taylor said the brigade is tasked with providing services like housing,

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Mosul could be destination for Washington Guardsmen

Could a Washington National Guard battalion be heading to Mosul?

The 81st Brigade is in Kuwait, preparing to soon enter Iraq. Its commander, Col. Ronald Kapral, has previously said the unit will serve throughout northern Iraq, mostly working convoy security.

The Guard isn’t saying where troops will be stationed. But an article from the Evansville Courier & Press gives hint that at least a battalion of Washington soldiers could be heading to Mosul.

The article talks about the upcoming homecoming of the 1st Battalion, 163rd Field Artillery, who are serving as part of a call-up of a brigade of Indiana National Guard soldiers. And while it doesn’t specifically state the unit is from the 81st Brigade, that’s the only Washington Guard unit preparing to serve in Iraq that could fit the void left by the Indiana soldiers.

From the story:

For some time, the coming-home date has fluctuating. Soldiers knew the Indiana National Guard was aiming for deployments of about a year, including training and demobilization, but Haywood said the end date changed frequently. At first it was mid-December, then late-November and then early November before the latest incarnation.

But with a replacement unit from the Washington National Guard expected to arrive on base as early as today, (Capt. Matthew) Haywood said the 163rd is confident about the most recent departure plan.

“I hope that we’re close enough now that we’ve pretty much got it nailed down,” he said. “I think that’s the case.”

A call to the Washington National Guard public affairs office was directed to the spokesman for the 81st Brigade, who couldn’t immediately be reached. (I’ll update this as soon as I hear anything.) But until then, keep in mind this hasn’t been confirmed.

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Lowenberg to discuss the changes of the National Guard

Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, the adjutant general of the Washington National Guard, will give a speech and participate in a Q&A session next week before the City Club of Tacoma.

Wednesday’s session is titled "The New National Guard: The National Guard of the 21st Century," and a press release said Lowenberg will discuss the transformation of the Cold War-era Guard to today’s organization.

Lowenberg is also scheduled to "highlight the metamorphosis that has led the National Guard into current partnerships with 63 countries to defend the nation and its interests all over the globe. Gen. Lowenberg

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Lakewood could provide help to deployed employees

My colleague Brent Champaco reports Lakewood is considering covering diminished salaries for city employees who are deployed to active military duty.

The city already extends medical and dental benefits to deployed employees’ dependents for up to two years. No city employees are deployed or preparing to deploy.

From the article:

Under the proposal, Lakewood would join four other local governments who cover or have covered an employee’s lost salary if service overseas means a decrease in pay. The City of Tacoma covers the gap, and Pierce County does it for up to two years.


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A way to double the help from home

A nonprofit organization and online shipping provider are teaming up to provide an easy way to send care packages to soldiers.

Operation Interdependence offers its Adopt-A-Box program. Each box ($30) has supplies for 50 troops and can contain a short note from the sender. Items include anything from beef jerky and candy to disposable cameras and toothbrushes.

Endicia, the shipping provider, is matching donations and paying for overseas delivery.

The goal is to reach almost every deployed service member around the world with something from home every month.


Tacoma native to command Navy’s newest sub

The Navy will commission a Virginia-class attack submarine, the USS New Hampshire, on Saturday in Maine.

And a Tacoma native, Cmdr. Mike Stevens, will be its inaugural commanding officer.

“This is a longtime dream for me,” Stevens told “Submarines provide the best opportunity to command a ship at sea. When you’re 4,000 miles out to sea, you really can’t turn to anyone else for guidance. You have to rely on your own abilities, and that appeals to me. You have autonomy.”

According to a Navy release, the 7,800-ton New

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Fort Lewis soldier shows off his pipes at singing competition

Singing before crowds is nothing new for Victor Trinidad.

He can thank his command of English for that.

Trinidad, a helicopter electrician at Fort Lewis, was born in New York but moved to Puerto Rico as a child. Few kids in his neighborhood could speak English, and he was the only one out of those who knew the words to the national anthem.

"So when they needed someone to sing it," he said, "guess who they asked?"

That sparked a love of performing before a crowd for Trinidad, now a 27-year-old staff sergeant with the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. And his vocal skills are gaining attention in military circles.

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