82nd Cavalry Regiment Recognized During Demobilization Ceremony

More than 120 members of an Oregon Army National Guard unit were recognized at a demobilization ceremony at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas recently after their service supporting United States allies in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.

Members of Charlie Company, 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment were recognized by federal, state, and local officials during the ceremony, held at Camp Withycombe Armed Forces Readiness Center on Saturday, February 4.

During its nearly yearlong deployment as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Poland, the unit provided a vital role while contributing support to U.S. NATO allies in eastern Europe following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The deployment was one of the largest mobilizations of Oregon National Guard members since Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2006.

The 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, currently serves with the 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Washington Army National Guard and is headquartered in Bend, Oregon.

The units selected for the mobilization to Poland comprised the medic section of HHT Bend, the mortar section of The Dalles, and Charlie Troop of Portland.

In his remarks welcoming home Charlie Troop, Major General Micheal E. Stencel, adjutant general for Oregon, emphasized the timely sense of uncertainty when they first arrived in Poland in January of 2022.

“As we deploy more frequently and recurring — deployments become more normal, our risk is that they no longer garner public attention,” he said, acknowledging the past several years of both global and pandemic domestic operations to members of the unit.

“When you embarked upon your mission to support our NATO partners, tensions in Eastern Europe were coming to a critical point — shortly after your arrival, the Russian military invaded Ukraine,” Stencel continued.

“I am sure there was some initial trepidation and apprehension for many of you, as you witnessed the immense influxes of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland … by car, train, and often on foot.”

Following Stencel’s remarks, he introduced new Governor Tina Kotek for her first official military observance in her new office.

“As many Americans watched the invasion in Ukraine, I am proud to know that you were there serving the communities of Poland,” she told the unit. “I am not surprised that you were there, doing very key work at a critical time because that’s what the Oregon National Guard has been doing.

“You are no stranger to demanding situations and you are well equipped to work with a wide variety of partners.”

While in Poland, the troop also took part in the Iron Wolf II Exercise with Battle Group Lithuania, driving their Strykers over 200 miles to the Runka training area in Lithuania from Poland.

This was a challenge, as the trip took over 14 hours but the transition was quick, all the while taking part in a major training exercise. Over 4,000 Soldiers from Lithuania, Norway, Germany, Poland, and Great Britain conducted training in what was termed a “near-peer threat” exercise, mirroring real-world dangers in neighboring Ukraine.

This was just one of the many actions that Charlie Company conducted with other U.S. European partners; building trust, reassurance, and friendships while enhancing readiness.

The unit also held a “spur ride” for the entire battle group in September — testing Cavalry scouts on reconnaissance tasks. Soldiers from Charlie Troop, the Royal Dragons, and the Romanian Air Defense rucked more than 60 miles while taking part in over 10 Cavalry-related Knowledge tests and exercises.

By the end of the training, 18 U.S. soldiers and one Romanian Air Defense soldier earned their Silver Spurs.

Also in attendance during the ceremony, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, touched on the long U.S. relationship with Allied partners dating back to World War II, through the Cold War and now to the present deployment.

“‘Americans always get it right … after they’ve tried everything else,'” Wyden said, paraphrasing a famous — and likely apocryphal — quote attributed to Winston Churchill. “But with General Stencel and the Oregon National Guard — they always get it right the first time.

“All of us appreciate the wonderful courage and valor of our troops because Oregon’s National Guard – they weren’t running from potential dangers, they just kept answering the call and volunteering [during this deployment] to help in any way they could.”

Prior to her election as governor and Oregon’s new commander in chief, Kotek served as the speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives from 2013 to 2022. In that role, she saw firsthand direct support with domestic operations by service members when responding to the initial outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

In her closing remarks, Kotek praised these long-sustained efforts made by Oregon National Guard members.

“As citizen-soldiers, you have demonstrated time after time, mission after mission — how to draw on past accomplishments and apply them to current challenges,” she said. “Your rapid and professional response has earned you a place in history and in the hearts of Oregonians. You are patriots in every sense of the word.”

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