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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Sept. 21, 2023

Oklahoma Army National Guard holds first Wildland Firefighting Course

By Spc. Danielle Rayon,

Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers braved the sweltering summer heat and completed the Oklahoma Army National Guard's first-ever Wildland Firefighting course held at Camp Gruber Training Center, Aug. 21-25, 2023.

Nineteen service members from around the state volunteered to participate in the course. The Soldiers that successfully completed the course earned their Incident Qualification Card, commonly called Red Card, and are now qualified to conduct wildland firefighting missions in the state and around the nation.

The course covered curriculum that included wildfire behavior, suppression techniques, equipment operation and strategies for coordinating with other response agencies.

The participants partnered with the Camp Gruber Fire Department, allowing students to observe and learn from professional firefighters.

“I’m always going to bring with the me the utmost respect to all those firefighters that are out here working in this heat,” said Sgt. Harrison Gomez, a fire control specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “They’re doing their utmost to help persevere and keep all the fires at bay.”

In addition to learning technical skills for firefighting, students were tested on their physical readiness and ability to withstand the elements.

“You see the gear we’re wearing right now, and we’re doing this pack test and ruck marches, learning how to be out here in the elements,” said Capt. Leonardo Flores, a field artillery officer with the 160th. “And now you throw in the heat that’s going to grow into a bigger fire, more heat. You’re learning a lot, not only about how to fight wildfires, but I think you’re also learning a lot about yourself.”

Developing proficient wildland firefighting personnel expands the Oklahoma National Guard’s capabilities for responding to natural disasters both in the state and around the nation.

“This course will only help the National Guard because it gives us as a whole other tool in our utility belt,” Flores said. “We’ve seen it, the ice storms and tornadoes that come through, and wildfires are there too, unfortunately. The National Guard is there--that’s who we are.”

The new course not only bolsters the OKNG’s readiness and capabilities but provides a unique opportunity for Soldiers to develop their proficiency and broaden their skillset.

“In (the Oklahoma National Guard), there are going to be a lot of opportunities in the future to get into courses like this, and I highly recommend that you do hop into some courses because it’ll bring a whole new aspect to some of the perks of being in the National Guard,” Gomez said.

Despite it being the first time the course was offered for OKNG Soldiers, Flores said the course went well, the students enjoyed it and are looking forward to more opportunities to come.

“It’s a fun course,” Flores said. “But at the end of it, I’m very certain they would turn around and say, ‘I’m so glad my unit sent me because I want to keep doing this.’”
Video by Cpl. Danielle Rayon
45th Field Artillery Brigade change of command
Oklahoma National Guard
June 15, 2024 | 1:34
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Field Artillery Brigade held a change of command ceremony at the Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center in Mustang, Oklahoma, June 15, 2024, signifying the end of Col. Johnnie Dale Moss’ tenure and welcoming Lt. Col. William Kale Rogers as the new commander. “I never had to worry about it with you in command,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino, adjutant general for Oklahoma, “I just couldn't be happier, more proud of you, for successfully completing this assignment.” Moss’ military journey began in February 1991, when he enlisted into the OKARNG as an infantryman. He later commissioned in 1994 and served in multiple positions throughout his career, including deployments to Kuwait, Azerbaijan and Germany. During the ceremony, Moss was presented with the Legion of Merit, recognizing him for his exceptionally outstanding conduct and meritorious service to the United States.
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