Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RickOHIO Revisted: The Ohio Flag Flys in Michigan

This is a web column written before blogs were blogs at RickOHIO.com.  I wrote it in 1997 to commemorate my civilian travel with the Ohio Army National Guard and in advocacy for the Guard's importance to Ohio.  Ohio's National Guard is under the threat of budget cuts again this year, 15 years later.

The Ohio Flag Flys in Michigan
by RickOHIO

July 1997 [UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 1999]
It's really quite a sight. For anyone who understands the historic rivalry between Michigan and Ohio, it's amazing to imagine this: Ohio's pennant-style flag waving proudly in the heart of Michigan.

Me inside a M-1 tank in 1997.
Such is the case, though, this month at Camp Grayling in central Michigan. Over 2,000 men and women soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard are at the camp for their annual training this summer. Ohio takes over the camp every year for guard training.

Most of the Ohioans at Camp Grayling are the officers and enlisted of Ohio's Army National Guard. However, a lucky few, this author among them, were invited to tour Camp Grayling and observe guardsmen in full action.

The purpose of bringing the 100 or so civilians from around the state to observe this training is to spread a greater understanding of the guard and its many aspects. They know that the best way to understand is to experience. That's what this group did.

Civic leaders got to fire M16 rifles, watch a demolition and combat exercise, crawl around a M-1 tank, eat an M.R.E. (Meal Ready to Eat), helicopter over a civil engineering project underway, and board a C130 plane. The proudest moments where upon meeting a person from your hometown or home area who was in training.

A greater understanding of the guard was, in fact, gained during these two days. In particular, the group also became acqauinted with current events which affect the capabilities and future readiness of our citizen soldiers.

The guard is threatened by an imbalance in military spending cuts. With the 1998 federal budget and Department of Defense recommendations for the future, Washington has placed emphasis on the active-duty forces versus our state's citizen forces--the Guard. The state governor's aren't happy about it and have let the Clinton Administration know their displeasure.

In the states, the Guard performs so many duties which extend well beyond military readiness. The Ohio Guard, for example, has a rich history of being there to assist with the state's major disasters. The guard brought calm and expertise to aid victims and protect the citizens after the Xenia tornado in 1974, the Shadyside floods in 1989, Lucasville Prison Riot in 1993, and the Ohio River floods of this year. There are many examples where the Guard assists communities every day.

It's hard to imagine the guard, with its history longer than that of Ohio itself, not being there for us during disasters or not being a part of our future. But it's hard to imagine the Ohio flag flying in Michigan too.

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