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March 12, 2018

'Our' Engineers -

U.S. Army Reserve Members Share Stories of Service

OSWEGO - Friends of Fort Ontario hosts a free program featuring the personal stories of officers and soldiers of the 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, United States Army Reserve (USAR). The event begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7 at the Francis Marion Brown Theatre, located on the grounds of Fort Ontario State Historic Site on East Fourth Street in Oswego. The 444th occupies the Fort Ontario U.S. Army Reserve Center in Oswego, providing a near-continuous military presence at the post since 1755.

Only 1 to 2 percent of America's population are members of the active duty military, reserve, or National Guard, and their service and sacrifices often go unnoticed or unseen by many. This program will raise awareness about Oswego's citizen-soldiers and their families.

Captain Donald Oechslin will speak about his 2012 to 2013 deployment to Afghanistan from a leadership standpoint, highlighting the planning process going into and during the posting. Captain Oechslin served overseas where he organized and led tactical operations in the field and missed the birth of his daughter.

Corporal John Anderson explains the mission of the Army Reserve and why it is important to national security. He discusses his motivation for joining the Reserves and the benefits of serving his country while raising a family and attending college. He will also talk about his service in Iraq in 2010 to 2011.

Staff Sergeant Joe Pitre served in the military for over 21 years and will speak about his post to Fort Hood in Texas in 2003 to 2004, as well as his deployments to Iraq in 2007 to 2008, and Afghanistan in 2012 to 2013.

Staff Sergeant John Madonna was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2007 and was badly wounded when his RG31 Mine Resident Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP) was blown up by a command-wired improvised explosive device (IED). Sgt. Madonna was sent to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland for treatment upon his return to the United States.

SUNY Oswego student Alexis Bowering, a former member of the Family Readiness Group for the 444th Engineer Company, is an intern at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. She will introduce the speakers and talk about her own experiences as a member of the group.

For more information, contact Alexis Bowering at 315-343-4711 or abowerin@oswego.edu.

IN SERVICE - Members of the U.S. Army Reserve's 444th Engineer Battalion are shown with a family in Iraq, circa 2007 to 2008. Photo submitted by Fort Ontario State Historic Site.

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