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70 Years of Service: ODVA Celebrates its 70th Anniversary

In recognition of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs 70th anniversary, we are featuring personal stories of Oregon veterans here on our blog for the 70 days leading up to June 16. Below is an interactive “story map” showcasing Oregon veterans’ experiences around the globe through multiple eras of service. Each veteran’s story will link back
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Kennie Namba: “We were proud Americans and willing to die for our country.”

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans stateside were deemed enemy aliens and reportedly not suited for military service. Those in the service at that time were discharged and then joined their families in relocation camps. Later when allowed to join the military and serve, many of the more than 5,000 Japanese American soldiers
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Thomas I. Garrigus: Olympic Medal Winner for Shotgun

As a member of the U.S. Air Force, Thomas I. Garrigus was trained to shoot several weapons. The difference between he and most airmen was what he shot them at. The Hillsboro native served in the Air Force from 1965 to 1969, but for the most part, Staff Sgt. Garrigus spent his time on the
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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Printable VersionNeed Viewer Software? Washington – With the goal of making the application process easier and more efficient for our Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now requires Veterans seeking disability benefits to use standardized claim and appeal forms. Read Full Story


Jacob DeShazer: “Hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy.”

On April 18, 1942, Cpl. Jacob D. “Jake” DeShazer of Stayton was among nearly 80 fliers who helped boost American morale in the early days of World War II when the United States surprised Japan by attacking it with heavy bomber. It became known as the Doolittle Raid —led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle. A
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James Sehorn: “How a forester got into the business of flying fighters, I’ll never know.”

It was his seventh combat mission in Southeast Asia with the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron. James Sehorn was forced to eject over North Vietnam on Dec. 14, 1967 and was immediately captured by communist forces and imprisoned near Hanoi. Sehorn’s 5-foot-9, 190-pound frame quickly shrank to 125-pounds while incarcerated. All around him, soldiers were beaten
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Ted Pileggi: “Our assignment meant that we were expendable.”

In 1951, Vito “Ted” Pileggi’s dad was listening to news broadcasts about the unsettling events that were developing in Asia. He would say, “Where in the hell is South Korea?” Both men felt something horrendous was brewing, something that could eventually affect the nation, their entire family and, in particular, Ted, the eldest son. In
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Mac MacDonald: Marine, Educator, Advocate

Herman “Mac” MacDonald was born in 1929 in Boston, Mass., and began his military in 1950 when he joined the United States Coast Guard Reserve while attending Bryant College, Mass. After graduation from college, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves It wasn’t long until he was activated to serve in the Korean War. A
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Art Iwasaki: “We didn’t want to embarrass our family or our ancestry.”

The third son of a dairy farmer in Hillsboro, Arthur Iwasaki was part of a large all-American family. The dairy was founded in 1916 by B.Y. (Billy) Iwasaki along with his three sons George, Ike, and Art. The dairy farm would later become a vegetable farm and by the 1930s the family had added bedding
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Larry Plaisance: “Legacy of courage and valor.”

Lawrence Plaisance was familiar with war. He’d served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II in the European and Pacific theaters in a unit that was the forerunner to the Navy SEALs. In Korea, he’d be with the Marine Corps Reserve. After the war, he married Evelyn O’Donovan in 1948 and joined the
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Scott Anderson: “Magic is a piece of home I got to take with me.”

Often National Guard Soldiers apply their civilian training to enhance their military deployments. A soldier in Task Force 38’s medevac unit, Company C, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment did just that during his mobilization in 2009 to Joint Base Balad, Iraq. When the Canby, Ore. resident was not using his military skills as a medevac
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