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Legislators, governor honor Guard during 'Guard Day' at Legislature


Legislators, governor honor Guard during 'Guard Day' at Legislature

OLYMPIA – Members of the Washington National Guard were honored by the state Legislature on April 7 with resolutions thanking the Guard for serving “the country as guardians of American interests at home and abroad.”

Gov. Jay Inslee also thanked soldiers and airmen and gave out awards to outstanding Guard members for their service. The National Guard Association of Washington, which hosted a breakfast for legislators and the Guard, also paid tribute to lawmakers.

“I have seen tired members of the Guard with a smile on their face and dirt in their ears at these fires and the 530 landslide,” Inslee told Guard members. “And the public has felt that professionalism at Oso and the fires. The fact that this unit can be so professional both in support of the emergencies we have and in responding to national security threats is a real testament to a real adaptable group. It is true that the Washington National Guard is leading the nation in multiple areas of creativity and new ways of doing business.”


Inslee also praised the Guard for its work in cybersecurity, noting the 262nd cyberspace operations has been recognized as the best in the nation.

“You ask some of our commanders out there what keeps them up at night and it is cyber warfare,” Inslee said. “There is no better outfit than this one to lead the nation than the Washington National Guard – and we are leading the nation.”

The event included a chance for lawmakers to get to know officers and enlisted soldiers and airmen across the Washington National Guard, as well as meet members of the Washington State Guard, visit tables set up by the Washington Emergency Management Division, promoting a new Two Weeks Ready message, and the Washington Youth Academy, which celebrated its 2000th graduate in December.

Inslee and Major General Bret D. Daugherty honored two Guardsmen for their service during the event.


Senior Master Sgt. Jason Witts was honored for his role during the Cascadia Rising exercise, where his leadership helped ensure 30 taskings for movement of 100 personnel and 40,000 pounds of equipment. Witts was also recognized for helping his fellow airmen with career advancement. In addition, he donates many hours to the Camp Rosenbaum day camp and the “Citizens for Safe Schools,” mentoring youth and contributing to lower drop-out rates.


Specialist Sergio Sanchez was also honored for his professional excellence and commitment to service. In his day job as a Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy, Sanchez rendered life-saving first aid on two separate occasions utilizing the skills and training he received as a combat medic via the Guard.

“Specialist Sergio Sanchez truly embodies the character and spirit of what it means to be a citizen soldier, selflessly serving his community with pride and honor, as well as our nation in times of conflict,” his certificate states.

State Rep. Brian Blake was honored by the National Guard Association of Washington during the breakfast on April 7. Blake was given a standing ovation and a certificate by Association President Jennie Bellerose for his role as prime sponsor of legislation, which was turned into law, granting some kinds of hunting licenses for free to members of the Washington National Guard and the Washington State Guard. Bellerose credited Blake’s legislation for improving the recruiting and retention of members of the Guard.


The state Senate and state House both unanimously passed resolutions honoring the Guard.

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, a major in the Washington National Guard, noted, “The motto of the National Guard is Always Ready. Always There. And we say we’re always there because we go back to the 1600s to the colonial militia, before the founding of our country, and we’ve been here ever since.”

“We’ve fought in every conflict and been there beside you, protecting you, watching over you,” Hobbs said.