PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About 300 Oregon National Guardsmen deployed to hospitals in the Portland metro area on Saturday in response to the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The deployments were mostly Airmen, many of whom have been busy with different National Guard assignments throughout the year.
Robert Pena, a surveillance technician with the 116th Air Control Squadron at Camp Rilea, said he just got home on Friday from battling wildfires in Oregon when he was ordered to deploy for COVID relief.
“It’s a busy time to be in the Guard but it’s also like the most helpful you’ll ever feel in the Guard because you’re actually doing what you’re supposed to be doing,” Pena said.
Commander David Unruh of the 142nd Wing said the 300 Guardsmen are an example of the “citizen soldier filling a need.”
“I’m thankful for the airmen and I’m thankful for the community,” Unruh said. All the Airmen have different skills and specialties, “but their #1 military specialty is service and protecting their nation. …They step up and answer the call.”
Earlier this week about 500 Oregon Guardsmen deployed to hospitals in southern Oregon. When the deployments are complete, about 1500 Oregon National Guardsmen will be helping at hospitals around the state.