In the community

Local Guard soldiers honored for service in the Middle East

ONTARIO – More than a dozen citizen-soldiers from Ontario’s Army National Guard unit received a warm welcome from a deployment to the Middle East during a recent ceremony at the Ontario Armory.

The Guard soldiers were part of Operation Spartan Shield, a command consisting of active duty Army, National Guard and U.S. Army reserve units based in Kuwait. Their mission was to provide a rapid reaction force for the region in an emergency.

Sixteen soldiers deployed from Ontario to Kuwait.

The commander of the small force was 1st Lt. Matthew Booher of Hermiston, who said the tour was a learning experience.

“I really liked having the opportunity to do my specific job for a year straight without having to fluctuate between civilian and active (duty) status,” he said.

The local Guard soldiers were incorporated into Idaho’s 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team in Kuwait.

Booher said the local Guard soldiers mostly trained while they were in Kuwait.

“We were the heavy armor QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for the region. We had to be ready to go in a moment’s notice,” said Booher.

That meant, he said, the Guard soldiers trained to be ready to go anywhere in the Middle East within 12 hours of a warning order.

“We had to go from training status to having all the tanks on trailers and getting them on planes and taking off,” he said.

They weren’t deployed for combat during their stay, he said.

The local Guard soldiers deployed in September 2022 and returned the last week of July 2023.

The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is Idaho’s largest unit and consists of Guard units from Montana, Oregon and Nevada.

The brigade was deployed to Iraq during the war on terror in 2004 and in 2010. Known as the Snake River Regiment, the unit includes Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, artillery and infantry.

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