PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Major General Raymond F. Rees served as adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard for 16 years before he retired in 2013. He later became national director of the Army National Guard, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for training and held several other high ranking posts.

But on a September day, Major Gen. Rees returned to the see a former Umatilla weapons depot renamed in his honor as it gets new life as a training center for future citizen soldiers of the Oregon National Guard.

“So we set about opening the doors and challenging the bureaucracy to make that happen. Today is an affirmation of that old saw: patience is a virtue,” Rees said that day. “My appreciation for today’s honor goes beyond the brick and mortar. It goes to the spirit of the National Guard.”

The Umatilla Army Ordnance Depot first opened in 1941 on more than 17,000 acres in Umatilla County. It became a chemical weapons depot, storing and destroying chemical ordnance as well as conventional weapons.

An historical, undated photo of the Umatilla Ordnance Depot in eastern Oregon.
An historical, undated photo of the Umatilla Ordnance Depot in eastern Oregon.

The Army closed it in 2012. Under Rees’ direction, they dedicated 7500 acres to a training facility for the Oregon Army National Guard.

The Raymond F. Rees Training Center will be home of the 249th Regional Training Institute. It will be a joint military training facility.

To date, $60 million has already been dedicated or spent, with $40 million more slated to add more ranges and barracks.

“We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us,” Major General Michael E. Stencel said. “But we’re off to a really great start.”

Rees’ wife, Mary Lynn, officially dedicated the Raymond F. Rees Training Facility. This facility will always bear his name to serve as an inspiration and training mecca for Oregon’s citizen soldiers.

“Thank you to all who have served, are serving, and will serve. You are our heroes,” Rees said.