us army

National Archives / via Eastern Washington University

It’s a story that seemingly has it all: a classified mission, dashing young men in uniform, leaps out of flying airplanes, stray bombs, plus some wildfires and a side of racial prejudice. The little-known slice of Pacific Northwest history featuring an all-black Army battalion is less likely to be overlooked now that the state of Oregon and people in Pendleton have put up a historical marker.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

At the crowded start of the men's 5000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last weekend, the elite runners at the line mostly wore the brightly-colored uniforms of their shoe company sponsors.

But there was also a pair of slender guys in beige, black and camouflage with the word "Army" in big block letters across their chests.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Note: This story is an update to a story first reported in 2012 in collaboration with the Seattle Times.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than 20,000 soldiers and Marines were given “other than honorable” discharges from the military. Now, one soldier from Salem, Oregon, has learned his discharge will be upgraded.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Amidst further downsizing confirmed by the U.S. Army Thursday, the Washington National Guard got good news. The Guard’s 81st Armored Brigade announced it will shed its heavy tanks and armor to convert into a more nimble Stryker configuration.

Bergdahl's Home Town Quiet On Desertion Charges

Mar 25, 2015
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The home town of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is quiet Wednesday now that the former P.O.W. is charged with desertion.

John Brooks / U.S. Army

The Army Surgeon General Thursday suspended the commander in charge of Army hospitals in 20 western states.

U.S. Army

The death of a soldier based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord over the weekend highlights the danger of training for war. Private First Class Andrew Sass was killed Saturday in an incident at the National Training Center in California.

A U.S. Army Sergeant will be transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to face charges he murdered two unarmed, deaf boys in Iraq in 2007.

US Army

Just as international talks ramp up about chemical weapons in Syria, the last remaining signs of similar deadly munitions in the Northwest are going away.

The White House. President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Spokane native Ty Carter.

Spokane native Ty Carter has received the nation’s highest military decoration. 

High Desert Warrior. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales

A jury of six soldiers is hearing graphic testimony Tuesday afternoon at the start of the sentencing phase of the trial of a U.S. soldier who massacred Afghan villagers. The jury will decide whether Staff Sgt. Robert Bales deserves life in prison with or without the chance of parole.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

For more than a decade, Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been sending soldiers off to war and welcoming them back home. Now this cycle of deployments and homecomings is winding down.

Over the next month, more than 1,000 soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade will return home. More than 200 were welcomed back Wednesday. And this time they don’t expect to go back to Afghanistan.

In many ways, this homecoming is like all the others. There’s an Army band. Anxious families wait on gymnasium bleachers. Homemade signs at the ready with messages like “We Missed You Daddy.”

Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz / US Army

Urban development around military bases in the Northwest and across the nation is creating a headache for the U.S. Defense Department. So Wednesday, several federal agencies announced they will pool money to preserve buffer lands, starting with Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma.

Federal and state money will be used to buy conservation easements or buy property outright to prevent development on more than 2,600 acres of farmland and prairie. The land is in Thurston County, Washington near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

A case that featured harrowing testimony of combat-related mental illness ended Monday with a guilty verdict. Army Sergeant John Russell was convicted for murdering five fellow servicemen at a military mental health clinic in Baghdad in 2009.

A military judge found the 48-year-old Texas native guilty of premeditated murder. A public affairs spokesman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma says Sergeant Russell showed no visible reaction.

I Corps, US Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect on Friday, March 1. Not much else is certain beyond that including who in the region could feel the pain immediately, if anyone.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

KETCHUM, Idaho - A winter's worth of racing and training for the best disabled skiers and shooters culminates later this month at the Paralympic Nordic World Championships in Sweden. For the first time, the U.S. team headed to the competition is made up entirely of disabled veterans. It's a good example of how some wounded soldiers are finding a new mission and purpose.

Sun Valley, Idaho has become a hub for healing veterans through sports and one ex-soldier went from infantryman to badly wounded warrior to pro athlete.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.

Army Spc. Heidi Olson received a Purple Heart last year for shrapnel injuries she got during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. She feels she's earned the right to call herself a combat medic.

"Originally as a female, I wasn't allowed to be titled as a combat medic," Olson says. "It was a 'health care specialist.'"

US Army

A new Army report confirms it was a mid-air crash that brought down two Army helicopters at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord a year ago. It happened during a night vision training exercise.

The heavily redacted 190-page report aims to recreate the events of the night of December 12, 2011. That clear, moonlit evening two Kiowa Warrior helicopters took off within a minute of each other. On board each chopper was an experienced pilot instructor and a newer pilot in training.

High Desert Warrior. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales

The top forces commander at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has decided to seek the death penalty against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the 39-year old soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year.

Bales is accused of conducting two predawn raids on villages in southern Afghanistan. The victims were mostly women and children and the Army says some of the bodies were burned. Prosecutors had asked for a death penalty trial and top commanders at Lewis-McChord agreed.

Army Orders Sgt. Bales To Capital Court Martial

Dec 19, 2012
High Desert Warrior. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales

The U.S. Army announced Wednesday that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face a general court-martial on 16 counts of premeditated murder and other charges. If convicted, the maximum penalty is death. The decision follows a pretrial hearing last month.

An attorney for  Bales says she's "disappointed" by the Army's decision to seek the death penalty against the Washington-based soldier accused of massacring Afghan villagers in March.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - In eight days of hearings, Army prosecutors outlined in grisly detail the case against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Washington soldier charged with killing and wounding 23 Afghan civilians in a rampage this past March. Bales’ pretrial hearing concluded Tuesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Now the Army will decide whether the evidence supports a full court martial and, if so, whether the death penalty is appropriate in this case.

Austin Jenkins

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, Wash. - A pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has concluded at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Bales is the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year – most of them young children. The defense is focused on Bales’ state of mind.

In closing arguments, Bales’ attorney Emma Scanlan challenged the prosecution’s assertion that Bales carried out the massacre in a methodical manner.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Army prosecutors say Staff Sgt. Robert Bales murdered 16 Afghan civilians in two villages this past March in an act of “sheer brutality.” That was the opening argument at a pretrial hearing Monday to determine if Bales will face a full court martial and possibly the death penalty.