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Former Oregon Guard Spokesman Arnold Strong Promoted to Lieutenant ColonelTim King Salem-News.com
Celebrating a significant promotion with his wife Margaret, his two sons and his parents; Arnold Strong's new silver oak leaves were attached to his shoulders by his parents.
(VANCOUVER, Wash.) - "Ladies and gentlemen, I present Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Strong..."
A military officer whose face is familiar to Oregon and Washington residents; Major Arnold Strong was the Public Affairs Officer for the Oregon National Guard when I was a photojournalist/reporter for KATU Channel-2 News in Portland, Oregon.
With 22 years of military service under his belt, Strong, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel this week at the Fort Vancouver Barracks in Washington.
His commanding officer read during the official ceremony: "The President of the United States, having reposed special trust in the confidence patriotism and fidelity and professional excellence of Major Arnold Strong, hereby promote this officer to the rank of Liuetenant Colonel, effective on this date, February 28th 2009, Nick Tuliados, Brigade Commander."
When I first got to know then Major Arnold Strong, I had to smile at the connection between his name and the campaign "Army Strong". In his last assignment with the Oregon Guard before his recent move to the U.S. Army Reserve, his phone message stated: "This is Major Strong with the Oregon Guard's Strength Readiness Command."
If I've ever had a friend who was truly larger than life, it is Arnold. I watched him ship off to Iraq years ago. I've seen him come and go from a number of deployments including very serious duty during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where Arnold's contact as a public affairs officer involved meeting with and assiting numerous national reporters and the President of the United States himself.
I made plans and eventually joined Arnold on military deployment, this one in Afghanistan, as an embedded reporter with the 41st BCT working for Salem-News.com and Oregon FOX-12 in Portland.
On this news assignment, I would spend the next two months reporting in-country. I was able to see Arnold and several other friends from Oregon over those weeks.
I remember watching Arnold work on the restoration of an old hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan in his spare time, and I remember how much he was affected by the impact the place stood to have for the area's women and children.
I watched him give money to British soldiers at the ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) Headquarters who were raising funds to help Afghan kids.
Arnold and I rose one morning at 3:45 a.m. and with other soldiers from the US, Canada and the UK, climbed the Ghar (Mountain) outside the military training camp in Kabul. This is a steep mountain that the soldiers in top shape practically run up. Many have tried and failed and one soldier I know had to be carried down on a previous attempt.
I will always remember Arnold yelling as I paused during the breathless high altitude early morning adventure, "Hey Marine, get going man!"
While I was tired, I was carrying a full-size TV camera and needed to shoot video. I thought resting and shooting made perfect sense but there was Arnold urging my continuance, until I reached the very top. It was a Hell of an experience.
One night in Afghanistan the troops were celebraring Christmas which was just days away. I was recording video of them singing carols and when I went to interview Arnold, he declined and insisted that I talk to other soldiers.
It isn't every day that Arnold Strong, or any public affairs officer for that matter, turns down an interview. But that night as he prepared to come home for a few days of leave during the holidays, he insisted that somebody else get the camera time.
Celebrating a significant promotion with his wife Margaret, his two sons and his parents; Arnold Strong's new silver oak leaves were attached to his shoulders by his parents. His new rank is a serious achievement for a young officer. Strong's new role at the Fort Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington involves training soldiers for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are two places Lt. Colonel Strong knows a good deal about.
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