104th bids farewell to Vancouver barracks

06/07/2010  |  Brig. Gen. Daniel York Commanding General
104th Training Division (Leader Training)
The Griffon

The 104th Division’s ties to the Pacific Northwest began in World War II, when the Division trained at Camp Adair, Oregon. Our nickname, the Timberwolves, and shoulder patch, a howling wolf symbolizes the free spirit of the Northwest.  Our ties were cemented in December 1946, when the 104th Division, was activated at the Vancouver Barracks. Many people; judges, business men and women and ordinary citizens have become Timberwolves.

The strength of the Army Reserve is that we are citizen Soldiers. In the last sixty three years, the Timberwolves have given back to our communities. Some of these actions were small, like reviving a Camp Fire Girl camp on the Washougal River, or assisting Clark County and the City of Vancouver recover wrecked and abandoned vehicles; to giving free rides to recreation sites for needy youths. We have also given back in larger ways.

The strength of the Army Reserve is that we are citizen Soldiers. In the last sixty three years, the Timberwolves have given back to our communities.

From 1954 to 1957, Portland’s Rose Festival Queen and her court visited the 104th Division at their summer training in Yakima, Wash. They brightened training, spoke to the soldiers, and sometimes served ‘chow’ to them. In later years, the 104th Division supported the Rose Festival by sending its band and color guard to march in the parade. In 1959, the Timberwolves laid railroad track as part of the Oregon Centennial Celebration. Later they removed the track and rebuilt the railroad with a high trestle in Portland’s west hills, where it became the Portland Zoo Railroad.

We have joined in Vancouver’s’ Veterans’, and Memorial Day ceremonies, where our band, drill team and soldiers proudly marched down the streets of Vancouver. In 1993, working with local businesses and city, the 104th Division had a Stand Down weekend, a program to help homeless Vietnam veterans. The same year, the division began a Drug Demand Reduction Program to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in the local communities.  In 1996 it was recognized as the best in the nation.  This would not have happened without the support and cooperation of community leaders in Vancouver and the surrounding towns and cities. 

In a similar support to the local community as well as saving lives in America, the 104th Division supported many Red Cross blood drives. For nearly a decade, at least once a year the Red Cross blood mobile was a recurring site at the Vancouver Barracks to our Timberwolves. It is hard to tell how many lives the blood our soldiers donated has saved.

For decades, Timberwolves taught subjects like rifle marksmanship in field locations at Camp Bonneville.  Local Timberwolves tell many stories of team building field training at Camp Bonneville, that included running rifle ranges, learning soldiers’ skills and simulated combat exercises.

Since the Global War on Terrorism began, the people of Vancouver have given us great support. Several of my Soldiers, while in uniform for our Battle Assemblies have been stopped by Vancouver’s citizens and thanked for their service. I cannot tell you how important this support is to them and myself.  This acceptance of our mission in these dangerous times has included healing old wounds.

Timberwolves have recently attended the Chief Red Heart Ceremony at the Barracks. I would like to thank the City of Vancouver, the National Park Service, the Wood family, and most especially the Nez Perce Tribe. You have allowed us to help heal old wounds and increase understanding between Native Americans and the Army.

Now it is time to look forward.  After over 60 years as part of the community, we, the headquarters of the 104th Division must leave the Vancouver Barracks. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the people of Vancouver, Portland, and the many other communities that have welcomed us over the years. This sadness is reduced by the knowledge that you, our friends will remember us, and I hope, preserve our heritage here at the Vancouver Barracks.


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