Hundreds of Oregon National Guard soldiers return home after overseas deployments

Over the last two days, some 300 soldiers with the Oregon National Guard have returned home from their overseas deployments.

About 100 Oregonians with the 1st Battalion 186 Infantry Regiment returned to Medford on Tuesday, greeted by friends and family. They had spent nine months in Djibouti in East Africa, and then two weeks in quarantine at Fort Bliss in Texas before flying home.

On Wednesday, approximately 200 members of the 2nd Battalion 218th Field Artillery arrived in Portland after completing their tour in Qatar. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with Forest Grove Mayor Peter B. Truax, the town where these soldiers are based, were also there to greet the troops.

Both battalions are part of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Approximately 1,300 Oregon National Guard members are currently mobilized for overseas missions, the Oregon Military Department says, but about 700 of them are currently at Fort Bliss completing demobilization and quarantine. More soldiers are expected to arrive back in Oregon next week.

The final group from the 41st, about 400 soldiers who currently are in Kosovo, are scheduled to arrive home in Oregon before Christmas.

According to the Oregon National Guard, these tours are part of the second largest mobilization of Oregon troops since World War II. The last mobilization of Oregonians this size was in 2009 through 2010.