By LANCE MASTERSON
Of the Keizertimes
The only thing Col. Dan Hokanson can do now is wait … at least when it comes to his promotion to brigadier general.
Hokanson, the 47-year-old former Keizer resident who was nominated for brigadier general by Major Gen. Raymond Rees, needs presidential approval before any promotion is finalized.
But first Hokanson and the other nominees for promotion must gain Senate confirmation. A list of nominees from different branches of the military was submitted to a Senate subcommittee. Qualifications for each nominee are being reviewed and concerns resolved before the list is sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. At this point, the president’s signature is considered a formality.
“It could happen any day now, or it could take months. It’s hard to say,” said Hokanson of the process. “The process is lengthy and unpredictable, but generally it can take anywhere from seven months to more than two years.”
Rees’ nomination came as Hokanson ended his tenure as commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon National Guard. The brigade has a long history including the longest deployment of any division during World War II, and recently returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq.
Hokanson’s combat deployments include: Operation Just Cause, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead soldiers into combat, not everyone deserving of that honor gets that chance,” said Hokanson. “I also feel fortunate to have commanded great soldiers who did great things.”
Hokanson’s new orders have him headed to Colorado Springs, Colo. as the Deputy J5, Plans and Policy, for the U.S. Northern Command, which conducts Homeland Defense and Civil Support operations within its assigned Area of Responsibility (AOR).
The AOR includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles.
Hokanson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1986 with a thought or two of rising to the rank of general. This was during the Cold War and the army was larger then. Even so, these thoughts were quickly put on the back burner.
“I quickly learned that the U.S. Army was comprised of fantastic people, and so I concentrated instead on being the best soldier I could be,” Hokanson said.
He also took advantages of opportunities as they presented themselves. Which is one reason why Hokanson and his wife Kelly have moved 18 times during their 20 years of marriage.
The couple has three children – Victoria, Danny and McKinnon – and have lived in Keizer eight of the last nine years. The year-long exception came when Hokanson attended the National Security Fellowship Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
It was also during this time that Hokanson served two deployments to the Middle East. While deployed, the local community stepped forward and provided the Hokanson family with assistance when needed.
“More than any other city, Keizer is home to us,” said Dan Hokanson. “This is the hardest move for us. We feel a part of this town.”
But a move was necessary in order for Hokanson to further his military career. Full-time general officer positions are not available with the Oregon National Guard (ONG).
Though leaving the ONG, Hokanson’s contributions will be remembered. While serving as the Army Aviation Support Facility Commander in Oregon, he founded the first National Guard Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST) and Military Air Rescue Team (MART) programs.
He also commanded 100 air rescues and fire fighting missions throughout the Pacific Northwest and northern California, including the 2002 Mount Hood Rescue.