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Feb-21-2007 20:41printcommentsVideo

Oregon Siblings Work Side By Side in Afghanistan (VIDEO)

DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN
A brother-sister pair from Salem find themselves stationed together far from home.

Heather Lousiana
Specialist Heather Louisiana and her brother are stationed at Gardez.
Photos by: Tim King

(KABUL, Afghanistan) - They may have had their battles while growing up in Oregon, but brother and sister Jay and Heather Louisiana never thought they would end up in a war zone together, in the same unit, at the same base - in Afghanistan.

Brother Jay Louisiana

"Actually with our company we have a father and son and other than that, a couple of people in the battalion but than that I think that's it," said Jay Louisiana, a Sergeant in the Oregon National Guard.

The siblings are both based at a mountain base called Gardez. Soldiers there are a tight knit combat group.

"The Sweet Little Lou is my nickname, my brother's platoon nicknamed him Sweet Lou, and so from there they nicknamed me Sweet Little Lou, so I had it embroidered and put on my headband, just gives it a little personal touch," said Heather Louisiana.

While Jay is operating a machine gun on a Humvee, Heather’s job is driving one of the biggest trucks in the Army, the 5-ton. The turbocharged armor laden trucks haul large amounts of equipment, they two trailers, and frequently transport soldiers enroute from one part of the country to another.

Today's 5-ton trucks have automatic transmissions but on the roads of Afghanistan, they are still challenging to drive. In addition to poorly maintained roads and inclement weather, soldiers driving in convoys have to be especially aware of IED's and other hazards. Both Heather and Jay have been involved in combat during their time in Afghanistan.

When she was asked if that was a lot of truck to handle, Heather replied, "Yeah, I've been driving for about four years but this is definitely new terrain and new experiences."

Jay said of his sister’s abilities behind the wheel, "Oh she's awesome with it, everything I heave heard from her and her chain of command is excellent."

On this trip from the base at Camp Phoenix in Kabul to the mountain base at Gardez, one of the 5-ton trucks had a blow out, and the entire convoy came to a stop on the Afghan highway.

As Heather and the other soldiers labored to replace the wheel and tire, hundreds of motorists had to wait at each end of the stopped convoy. Security concerns mean no vehicles pass Americans when they are broken down. They work fast to get the rubber back on the road.

"Yeah we practice it quite a bit so we you know, work together and it gets done pretty quick," Heather explained.

After getting back underway we reached the mountains that we had to cross.

It wasn't the most treacherous day of year, but the drivers had plenty to think about.

"It's a little over 11,000 feet at top of the pass which is just around this corner,” Heather said.

“The whole way up is kind of scary because you have pretty much direct drop offs, there's really no guard rails on the side of the road, so when it snows you just have to drive really slow and careful, there is a lot of other traffic on the road and sometimes the traffic gets backed up."

The brother and sister soldiers say having a small family support network on the base helps a lot during the hard times.

As combat veterans, their experience in Afghanistan ranks among the most unique of all sibling adventures.

Watch the Video News Report below, direct from Kabul, Afghanistan by Tim King:

__________________________________
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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John Fabiani May 19, 2007 8:34 am (Pacific time)

By 2003 americans has killed more civilians bombing Afghanistan than were killed in 9/11 attacks. Four years later, what have we reaped from the slaughter?


Tim King May 15, 2007 12:24 pm (Pacific time)

Gordon Sturrock, thanks for sharing your thoughts. If things are stated in a civil way much more is accomplished, so thanks for being that way. I would like to add a couple of things for perspective: I was around both Heather and Jay in Afghanistan and I actually started my career in news in the Newport/Lincoln City area. They are both extremely kind people. I was with Jay on a patrol at night when you never know what is going to come out of the shadows in Kabul, and he treats people well. Jay and I made friends with a local kid who sort of joined the patrol for a while. They were in the Guard and they went where their country told them to go.

The war in Iraq is not the same war these soldiers are fighting. I tell you truly that most people in Afghanistan are really glad to have the Coalition in place. It is the first time many of them have seen a relative amount of peace in 30 years. So personally, even though I was completely against the invasion of Iraq, I do see an advantage for the Afghans. Maybe it is circumstantial to a degree, I would have been happy to see our forces attack the Taliban over their heinous treatment of women and children and others who disagreed with them. I don't think Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove even cared about liberating the women there but the war effort has brought that around to a large degree.

As far as Patty Louisiana and the Newport parade, why don't you send me an email to newsroom@salem-news.com and share the details of what happened? If you are saying that a group with a POV that didn't support the war was banned from participating, then I want to know more. I haven't lived in Lincoln County for several years, but I do have a broader understanding of this region that some people. From a personal standpoint, I thought Patty was very nice, a proud mom. I also have high regard for credible protesters who utilize their freedom to exercise their rights for change.


Gordon Sturrock May 15, 2007 12:19 pm (Pacific time)

Isn't it sad that while Patty Louisiana suppresses free speech of military Veterans in her hometown of Newport Oregon "Loyalty Days Parade", that her own children serve in an illegal war, occupiers in a foreign land, who are subject to being killed by the indigenous people who have not only the responsibility but the legal right to defend their homeland and kill members of an invading army? The right thing to do Heather and Jay, is lay down your arms and refuse to serve in this illegal war. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it, Loyalty to country, always. Gordon Sturrock - Squadron13.com U.S Army veteran who was rejected from "Loyalty Days Parade" by Patty because our message of peace "didn't reflect the spirit of the community".


scott michael perey May 14, 2007 1:34 am (Pacific time)

The neocons (whispering "Invade!" in George W's ear and convincing him it was God talking) were behind the rhetoric and planning of the military actions in both Afghanistan AND Iraq, so "Son of Newport" doth protest way too loudly. And whatever credibility he would even hope to retain amidst all his other strange rambling is blown to pieces by his silly little high-school-macho-man "knuckle-sandwich" tidbit. Nice argument, Buddy! Hey, I'll bet you could come with some real original personal attacks against ME too, if you gave it a couple seconds. Gonna threaten to hit me as well? (sigh) I understand...it's a whole lot easier than honestly investigating whether you've been bamboozled into supporting one of the biggest and deadliest cabals in American history. I fully support Mr. May's exposure of Patty Louisiana's underhanded politics: http://www.squadron13.com/deployed/070506NewportParade/ http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/newportloyaltydays/signatures.html


Matt Johnson May 13, 2007 11:01 am (Pacific time)

Mark May makes us sick


Son of Newport May 13, 2007 11:00 am (Pacific time)

Hey idiot, this story is about Afghanistan, not Iraq. You sound like a 100% bona fide liar, in fact that is the cream of your tainted soul isn't it? Patty is a friend of mined, and you are cruising for a knuckle sandwich you stupid ranting retard. Censored comments, what a joke...! Like a business is a democracy. This site always leans left but they are a bit rational as well. You sir, are a sad, sorry little man.


Mark May 13, 2007 8:58 am (Pacific time)

Interesting. Even comments on this site need censoring by the like of Fox News. I am not surprised that Patty Louisiana would want to suppress freedom of speech. If the message does not fit in their narrow belief system, then it will not be allowed to be presented. I have lost a nephew in this war in an unarmored Humvee in Bahgdad. I support our troops more than you may ever know. I do not support the illegal occupation of Iraq that George Bush has put us into based upon lies and deception. Neither does about 67% of our country. Asking for peace and an end to an illegal occupation so our sons and daughters can come home IS supporting our troops.


Tim King April 10, 2007 12:18 pm (Pacific time)

Happy birthday Heather!


Anonymous April 10, 2007 11:23 am (Pacific time)

Its Heathers birthday today!!


Patty Louisiana March 13, 2007 12:25 pm (Pacific time)

Just a brief note from "mom" of these two Oregon soldiers. I brought them up to be a team not knowing this was the team they were destined to be on. Each is so proud of the other and the missions they are individually covering. As the saying goes, home is where the Army sends you. Jay and Heather are fortunate to be able to carry that one step further and be together on the same base. Thank you all at Salem-News.com and to Tim King for the coverage you are giving to our Oregon Army National Guard soldiers. Patty Louisiana, Proud mom to Spc's Jay and Heather Louisiana.


Ronnie S. February 24, 2007 1:39 pm (Pacific time)

My husband is currently serving at Camp Phoenix, and will be returning to the States in two weeks. I appreciated seeing the Camp, thank you!


Anonymous February 22, 2007 9:37 am (Pacific time)

yes what Ellie said, they rock! and so do you SGT King!! TY for your reports.


Ellie G. February 22, 2007 2:54 am (Pacific time)

Thank you for covering the men and women of the 41st! This was a great report, the kind we all want to see more of!!!!!


Osotan; February 21, 2007 11:54 pm (Pacific time)

nice one Sgt. King

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