These thoughts are taken from Gov. Brad Henry's column. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.



As the world watched the enormity of the Hurricane Katrina disaster unfold, many people felt a need to help Katrina's victims. Oklahomans lived up to the "Oklahoma Standard" with overwhelming donations of time, money, food, clothes and other essentials.

One group of Oklahomans, however, deserves special recognition. All Oklahomans should take pride in knowing that the members of the Oklahoma National Guard have been ? and continue to be ? vital to relief efforts in New Orleans.

Oklahoma troops were among the first to arrive in the devastated region. On Aug. 30 ? the day after Katrina made landfall ? the Oklahoma Army National Guard sent two Blackhawk helicopters to New Orleans to aid in search and rescue. The next day, the Army National Guard sent an additional Chinook helicopter to help with the mission.

On Aug. 31, the first 27 soldiers of a Quick Reaction Force arrived in the disaster zone, followed the next day by 33 more soldiers. By Sept. 4, less than a week after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, 2,300 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers were on the ground in New Orleans.

Brig. Gen. Myles Deering, commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade, now commands the military's joint task force in Louisiana, a force comprised of 15,000 troops from several state national guard units and from the active service. It is remarkable for a National Guard commander to be placed in command of active duty troops, and it reflects the confidence of federal authorities in Oklahoma's National Guard.

In recent years, the men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard have served in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now they are serving in New Orleans. Everywhere they are praised for their professionalism, dedication, and effectiveness. They deserve the thanks and praise of all Oklahomans for their selfless devotion to our state and for their outstanding representation of Oklahoma while abroad.

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