By this fall, the Oklahoma National Guard's contribution to the war effort will swell to more than 4,000. On Tuesday, the governor and state lawmakers took time out to say thanks. The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports this is the largest deployment of the Oklahoma National Guard since the Korean War. It's just another chapter in a long legacy of service.
General George S. Patton said of the 45th that they were the best infantry division in the American arms. The famed 45th has served in every armed conflict since World War Two. It's been an Oklahoma-only operation, since that war. And, this latest conflict in Iraq has taken its toll, calling up more than 2,500 members of the 45th infantry brigade.
"Today at this very moment they are providing critical support for our mission in Iraq and our thoughts and prayers are with them always," said Governor Brad Henry.
Halfway across the world, the streets of Baghdad are still marred by violence. And, Oklahoma troops stationed there continue to come under attack.
"We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator," said General David Petraeus.
On Capitol Hill, America's top commander says there shouldn't be any new withdrawals for a period, after the 20,000 troops responsible for the surge come home this summer.
Meanwhile, 800 more Oklahomans from the 45th Fires Brigades are set to deploy this fall.
Governor Brad Henry praised all of the guard's sacrifice and service in a ceremony in Oklahoma City. Dozens of guard members gathered for a special joint session of the legislature. Mr. Henry thanked those abroad and those here at home, who have seen the state through nine federal emergency declarations.
"Fire, ice, tornadoes, floods, whatever the situation we always depend on the men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard to respond with professionalism, effectiveness and expertise," said Governor Brad Henry.
Governor Henry also praised the families of Guard members and their employers who also sacrifice so the Guard members can answer the call to duty.
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