MCMINNVILLE - On Armed Forces Day, June 21, join the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as they celebrate the Oregon Air National Guard's 75th anniversary.
The public is invited to tour the museum and meet current and former Air National Guard members that have flown or maintained Oregon's fighter jets, and who have served in support of the Air Guard's statewide mission.
Oregon's Air Guard has been protecting the skies over the Pacific Northwest and Canada for nearly 70 years. For more than seven decades Oregon military air units in Portland and Klamath Falls have flown the F-15, F-4C, F-101, F-102, F-89, F-86, F-84 and T-33. All of these jets are on display at the museum.
"This is an opportunity for people to meet living military heroes from the past and present and see the aircraft that Oregon's Air Guard has flown over the years," said Melissa Grace, the museum's marketing and events director. "We're proud to honor and salute the Air Guard and these Oregon airmen for 75 years of distinguished service to our state and country."
The history of the Oregon Air National Guard began just prior to World War II as the United States monitored the wars raging in Europe and China. Soon, U.S. military leaders began to focus more on preparations for war.
In early 1941 Army Reserve Major G. Robert Dodson requested and received approval from the National Guard Bureau to activate the Oregon National Guard's first aviation unit. With 117 volunteers, the newly-formed 123rd Observation Squadron (OS) was activated on April 18, 1941.
Within hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, air crews assigned to the 123rd OS flew aircraft from their training base at Gray Field, near McChord Field in Tacoma, Wash., to the Oregon and Washington coast lines and began aerial patrols. Sixty years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, similar air defense missions were flown throughout the Northwest by the Oregon Air Guard. These missions continued for many days following the attacks on America.
Statewide the Oregon Air National Guard has more than 2,200 volunteer airmen who serve. Today, as a vital asset to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Air Combat Command, the 142nd Fighter Wing at Portland Air Base maintains 24-hour Aerospace Control Alert in the Pacific Northwest while providing air superiority mission capabilities.
Oregon's 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls is the home for the U.S. Air Force's only base where pilots are trained to fly the F-15 Eagle.
The museum is a non-profit organization and is located at 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way in McMinnville, just off of highway 18. For more information go to www.evergreenmuseum.org.