POC: Justin C. Cliburn
commish [at] okiraqi.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oklahoma Army National Guard Veterans to Raise Money for 10-Year Reunion
OKLAHOMA CITY ̶ Oklahoma Army National Guard veterans are raising money for a reunion marking 10 years since they deployed to Iraq on a security force (SECFOR) mission. The OklahomIraqis League (the OIL) is a fantasy football league started in Iraq in 2006 by members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
The league has continued ever since and, together with the league website (www.okiraqi.org), is the main way many of those soldiers keep in touch and look after each other. Additionally the soldiers have used the website to raise money for Moore tornado victims after a member of the league lost his home in the May 20 tornado. Currently the group uses the website to chronicle the oral history of their year in Iraq and their transition back into civilian life.
2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of the 2005-2006 SECFOR mission, and OIL commissioner Justin C. Cliburn is using the 10th OIL draft party to organize a reunion of the 150 men who served on that mission.
“We’ve lost two members of that mission in the last year,” Cliburn said. “At one of the funerals, everyone said we needed to stay in touch better. So we expanded the OIL to 28 members and planned on a big reunion and draft party in 2015.”
The reunion will be held in the Oklahoma City area. Henry Hudson's Public House in Bricktown will provide the venue for Saturday, September 5. The men plan to travel to Arlington, Texas for a day at AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) on Sunday, September 6. And a tour of local brewery Coop Ale Works is a possibility for either the Friday or Monday bracketing that weekend.
“The plan is to have everyone spend a weekend together getting back in touch and reconnecting. At some point during the weekend, we’ll draft our teams for the OIL, too. But the main goal is the reunion. The biggest obstacle to that element is finances,” Cliburn said.
Although Oklahoma City is the most central location for most of the group, members of that mission are now spread across the country.
“The bottom line is we need to help our members financially make it to Oklahoma City from their current homes in Ohio, North Dakota, Washington State, and Hawaii to name a few,” Cliburn said. “Most of these men, myself included, were enlisted men. Not all of us have the money to make this happen on our own,” he added.
OIL member Adam F. Duffy agrees. “I live in Wisconsin now and haven’t seen some of those guys in eight or nine years,” he said. “If I could make the trip work financially, I’d love to spend a weekend in Oklahoma City with my SECFOR brothers.”
The group has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for travel, lodging, a host location, food, drink, and print materials. Contributions to the campaign can be made at www.gofundme.com/158reunion or via PayPal at oklahomiraqis [at] gmail.com. All funds will go into the OIL business account.
The OklahomIraqis League (the OIL) is a fantasy football league comprised of current or former members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 158th FIRES regiment, headquartered in Lawton. The OIL was started in Iraq in 2006 as a daily distraction from the sectarian war that engulfed Baghdad that year and led to “the surge.”
Following images credit: 158thfieldartilleryassociation.com