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By U.S. Army Sgt. Armondo Borboa | | February 15, 2012

An infantry battalion is a self-contained fighting unit, one that brings with it everything needed to take the fight to the enemy and win the battle.

Even an experienced combat unit like Oregon’s 2nd Battalion of the 162nd Infantry occasionally needs assistance getting the job done. The challenge: to move 330 soldiers with 350 lbs of equipment each, totaling more than 50 tons of men and material from their home station in Springfield, Ore. overseas to Korat, Kingdom of Thailand to participate in the annual Exercise Cobra Gold a recurring multinational and multiservice exercise co-hosted by the Royal Kingdom and the U.S. designed to increase interoperability with participating nations by training as a multinational force that shares common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Cobra Gold is a great opportunity for our soldiers to conduct training overseas,” said Lt. Col. Eric Riley, commander of the 2/162. “The chance to work with the Royal Thai Army will increase our overall mission readiness for both State and Federal missions.”

This is where Shad and Cheryl Turner, owners of Lawrence Air Charters, come in. Although more accustomed to arranging Eugene airport charters for the Duck’s and Beaver’s away games and weekend jaunts to Reno/Las Vegas, Mr. and Mrs. Turners were very eager to step up when asked to arrange the Battalion’s strategic air movement to the Kingdom of Thailand.

“By far, (the 2-162 IN) is the biggest charter we have ever done,” said Cheryl Turner, “We are honored to help out in any way we can.”

They help also included no fewer than three generations of Turners, who were on hand to ensure everything went smoothly for the Oregon unit’s travel.

Although minor mechanical difficulties delayed their departure, the Turners made sure members of the task force were comfortable, providing refreshments and chatting with the soldiers as they waited on the ground. Bryce Turner, the Turner’s son, helped direct traffic on the tarmac while his own young daughter, Taryne watching from the entrance gate, providing moral support.

“You guys are our heroes,” said Turner, “We want to make sure you get off to a great start for your training.”

Exercise Cobra Gold is an annual exercise involving Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and U.S. service members. The various national militaries work to promote regional stability, security and build military partnerships. The Royal Government of Thailand and the U.S. have had continued relations for more than 179 years and through exercises such as Cobra Gold both countries learn from one another and increase interpretability while operating with one another.

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