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Dec-09-2008 19:21printcomments

Oregon Governor Responds to Anti-Deployment Vigil and Fast

Governor Ted Kulongoski tells Michele Darr from Operation Homebound that he will meet with her group Wednesday.

Michele Darr of Operation Homebound
Michele Darr of Operation Homebound photo by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - In a developing story, Oregon's Governor says he will meet with the woman who started the peace vigil and fast on Oregon's capitol steps called Camp Homebound.

Michele Darr says she was sitting at the state library today checking her email, when someone tapped on her shoulder. It was Paul Evans and Danny Santos from Governor Kulongoski's office.

Evans said, "The Governor is up the hall and he would like to have a few words with you." Darr said she was pleasantly surprised and followed the two aids into an office in the state library.

Darr said the Governor was friendly and warm and asked her, "What are you bringing forward today?"

"I explained that our purpose was to get a meeting with him personally, as more guard families are coming forward with questions about the deployment," Darr said. Along with her supporters, Darr says she remains hopeful that Oregon's governor can actually stop the deployment.

"I explained that our point is to keep the Oregon Guard home," Darr said. "The deployment is moved up to March, according to General Caldwell. I told him that we're going to keep the vigil going."

Darr says the governor expressed concern for her health with respect to the fast. "If you wrap up that fast I'm going to buy you lunch every single day for the rest of the time," Kulongoski said to Darr.

Kulongoski said they would go over his schedule for the coming days and get back to her with a specific time. "So I left knowing that they would contact me about the best time for a meeting," she said.

Then as quickly as it began, Darr says Evans and Santos returned to tell Darr that the meeting would take place tomorrow at 3:00 PM.

"It is a lot of work to do in 24 hours but we can do it," Darr said.

This peace activist is working with two Oregon Guard soldiers, Private Richard Portelli and Specialist Joe Landry. Annie Ford is also supporting Michele Darr. Her husband, Staff Sgt. James R. Eckley, died from exhaustion after four Oregon Guard deployments.

Darr says Annie Ford brought her a gift that she never expected. First she handed Michele Darr a card. As Darr related the story to me, her voice faltered. "She had written on it, 'my husband salutes you'." And then Ford handed Darr something even more overwhelming, her husband's chevrons from his uniform.

Representatives of the Oregon Governor have met with Darr and Operation Homebound in recent days, saying among other things that the matter is not in the Governor's hands because the state troops are federalized under the terms of the deployment. But Darr says that in spite of that, she believes he has the power to stop the scheduled deployment. Kulongoski is the commander of the Oregon Guard when it is not federalized.

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LTC (Ret) Stanley B. Eckley May 24, 2011 12:51 pm (Pacific time)

I just now came across these messages and thought I'd help iron out the confusion, which is surely justified. At one time there were 5 Eckleys in the Oregn Army National Guard (06-Ben; 05 Stan; 04 (then E6) Jim; 03 Keith and E5 Joe. Total time served ranged from 44 yrs to 6 year, with a net in excess of 110 years. All except Jim survive and are proud to have served our communities and country. To those of you who have served or still are serving--you have our praise and gratitude.

Nathan December 12, 2008 2:27 am (Pacific time)

I am in the Oregon Army National Guard, and I really can't wait for this deployment. To just go on with MajorMom8, I agree with the statement that she made. These troops gave an oath to serve and protect in a time of war, and I see a lot of people everyday trying everything that they possibly can to try and get out of this deployment that's coming up. This will be my third deployment in four years and I enjoy them. I'll admit that the whole reason why I joined the National Guard was the benefits for college. But I have never even used those benefits in the nine years that I have been in. I would rather go on deployments and earn a little extra income in this faltering economy than go to school and try and find a job after I am done. The Governor can try and stop this from happening, but people like this crazy chick just don't understand that this if a federlized deployment, the Governor can give no action to this. I think that she really did fry some braincells by sitting outside the Capitol building. Everytime I walk in downtown Portland in uniform I get spit at and called a baby killer (please people think of something original). I mean did people forget about 9/11, if this had happened in Oregon (in this liberal state) people would never forget and would be all for this war. Oh 9/11 was over seven years ago, so what. The minute we let our guard down is when it happens again. Who knows the next time it could be on your front doorstep. To all the people protesting this war your just making asses of yourselves when you do this type of crap. I mean obvisouly in the last five years after we had initiated the war and people were still joining the Military they had to know at some point that they were going to get deployed. That's what really bugs me about these protesters, is that they think that people were pulled into the military when it is a voluntary oath. Nobody made these Soldiers and Airmen raise their right hand. Infact I hope that my son joins when comes of age, it's in my family and I hope that he carries it with him.

Henry Ruark December 11, 2008 8:17 am (Pacific time)

Bryan, Amy et al: But Michelle D. DID get results for her "radical" actions, please note. Her determination brought the opportunity for the strong act of the Governor, with solid results in more ethical understandings by all. Never forget old Ben F., who was surely "radical" in his time, telling Founders: "We must hang together, or we will surely hang separately !" "Missing brain-cells" due to that action (M.D.'s here). I hope NOT. That's what it takes these days to even get basic attention, much less the real responsibilities we owe our nation, especially now. Apathy is dangerous to man, child, woman and even beast. See current Op Ed.

Bryan December 10, 2008 11:25 pm (Pacific time)

i couldn't have said it any better, Amy

Amy December 10, 2008 9:58 pm (Pacific time)

I am disappointed that Michele recieved a meeting with the Governor. She seems to be misguided in her ways for change. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want ANY of our troops deployed in the first place! But starving yourself and demanding meetings with someone who doesn't have the power to just "stop the deployment." I think she's lost a few brain cells with her hunger strike tactics.

majormom8 December 10, 2008 2:35 pm (Pacific time)

Point of correction if I may: Lt Col Eckley's oak leaves would be silver, not gold.

I wish the article would have clarified the "help" Ms Darr is receiving from National Guard members. As long as they wear the uniform, accept the benefits, and cash the paychecks, that come with Guard duty, they gave an oath and are bound by law to obey the orders of the officers over them, including packing bags for an unpopular deployment. I know many Guard and Reseve members in the past have suddenly become "conscientious objectors" and I sincerely hope that is not the case here. FYI, I am a retired Reserve officer.

Thank God and the NAtional Guard that we live in a country where protesters can indeed camp on the Capitol steps without fear of imprisonment or execution.

I owe an apology to all: the soldier's name is Staff Sgt.  James R. Eckley.  I will revise the story to reflect this.  S/Sgt Eckley's father was a full bird colonel.  

Vernon Huffman December 10, 2008 2:08 pm (Pacific time)

Let's put Oregon into the forefront of resistance to illegal, aggressive warfare. There is no justification for US troops bullying people on the other side of the planet. Let's take a bold stand and refuse to participate. History will be our judge.

Janie December 10, 2008 12:19 pm (Pacific time)

I am so glad the Governor stepped up to meet with these wonderful people. I think their dedication is clear and their message is accurate. I do not want the National Guard Troops (or any troops) participating in this unjust war. We are mired in an unwinable situation that is killing our children and Iraqi's. Thanks to all those on the Capitol steps for giving voice to this anti-war movement.

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