Troops in Your Thoughts, Prayers
Throughout our nation's great history, fighting for freedom has been a big part of making this country what it is now.
From the Revolutionary War to World War II to our current War on Terror, the United States has sent its best and strongest to defend liberty and freedom across the globe.
And while Oklahoma is just now turning a relatively-young (compared to other states) 100 years of age, we've played a big role in conflicts fought since statehood. And even today, we're making a big contribution to the war effort in the form of the 45th Infantry Division.
Originally a part of the National Guard, the Thunderbird Division (nicknamed that because of the Thunderbird logo they use to identify themselves) has an illustrious military history. Formed in 1923, the 45th Infantry became an important division during World War II, being called up to full-time status and helping Gen. George S. Patton's 7th Army in the Sicilian campaign in Italy. After completing its mission in Europe, Gen. Patton said of the Thunderbirds: "Your division is one of the best, if not the best division, in the history of American arms."
After that, they were sent back to National Guard status. But a few years later, they were again activated to federal mobilization in the summer of 1950, serving admirably in the Korean War from 1951-1953. While there, the unit served in four campaigns and saw 429 days of battle.
Since the end of that war, the 45th has become a rock of reliability for our state to lean on during its tough times, assisting when disasters struck in the state. But just recently, our nation has called for the Thunderbirds to fight abroad again, this time in the War on Terror in Iraq. The 45th has served in a smaller capacity recently in Iraq since 2003 and in Afghanistan in 2001. But this recent call-up is more like WWII or Korea, in that a larger number of the 45th is heading to battle. The 2,400 soldiers deploying will be the biggest mobilization for the Thunderbirds since Korea. They'll spend the next three months training at Ft. Bliss just outside of El Paso, Texas, before heading overseas.
No doubt this will have an affect on many Oklahoma households, but those brave men and women heading into battle will serve with bravery and distinction, just like the Thunderbirds from years' past did. Oklahoma has a strong military tradition and this new generation of soldiers will only add to the legacy our state has contributed to protect this country and freedom world-wide. It won't be easy, but fighting for worthwhile pursuits never is.
I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for those leaving our state to serve. I'm honored that they volunteered to fight for my freedom and their country. If you know anyone in the 45th who serves, please tell them thanks for what they do. Our thoughts and prayers will be with them while they're gone.
Earl Sears (R- Bartlesville) serves District 11 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be contacted by phone at (405) 557-7358 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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