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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 Spc. Danielle Rayon
Oklahoma National Guard Museum hosts Veterans Day Ceremony
Oklahoma National Guard
Nov. 11, 2023 | 2:02
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma National Guard Museum hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2023.
The ceremony drew a diverse crowd including military members, their families, supporters and retired service members. The event, a time-honored tradition, paid tribute to those who have served with reverence and respect.
The museum's grounds echoed with the presence of those who have served, creating a reverent atmosphere befitting the occasion. Attendees gathered to honor the sacrifices made by veterans and to express gratitude for their service.
Col. Brad Carter, assistant adjutant general – Army, Oklahoma National Guard, addressed the gathering, delivering a powerful message that resonated with the audience.
“To those veterans who accepted carrying the torch of responsibility, we are forever indebted,” Carter said. “For those veterans who were willing to pick up that torch from those before them, we are eternally grateful, and for those who are waiting to grasp it, go forward with the sacrifices made by those who also wore the uniform foremost in our mind.”