Ten domestic emergency and response experts from the Oregon National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package participated in a series of informational and practical exchanges Sept. 21-28, in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Nine guardsmen from the Oregon Army National Guard’s 224th Engineer Company and one Air National Guardsman from Oregon’s 142nd Fighter Wing traveled halfway across the world to train with, learn from and engage with Vietnamese engineers in the 249th Engineer Brigade, Vietnam People’s Army, through Oregon’s State Partnership Program with Vietnam’s National Committee for Search and Rescue.
The Oregon National Guard formally began their partnership with Vietnam's National Committee for Search and Rescue in November 2012 through the National Guard State Partnership Program.
The training includes a variety of search-and-rescue scenarios, including rappelling, rescue hoist operations, casualty extraction and rigging.
The week-long exchange not only brought together search-and-extraction experts from the two nations, but also forged friendships to last a lifetime.
“The Oregon SPP with Vietnam is an incredible opportunity for our citizen-soldiers to conduct foreign relations training with Vietnam, said Army National Guard Capt. Thanh Vo, 224th Engineer Company commander. “Where in the past we were fighting on opposite sides, today we are exchanging skills to better improve our capabilities to save our fellow countrymen’s lives.”
Making personal connections
Facing temperatures in the high 90’s and low 100’s, with humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife, the Oregonians provided top-notch training and also found the time to make personal connections with the 74 Vietnamese engineers they worked with.
“The joint training environment that we worked in with the Vietnamese was beneficial to our soldiers,” Vo said. “It provided the opportunity to not only work with people outside of the National Guard, but to learn and train with soldiers from an entirely different culture.”