Umatilla-Morrow Circuit Court Judge Jeff Wallace of Hermiston has left the bench - at least for a while.
Wallace, a Oregon National Guard and Army Reserve lieutenant colonel heads to pre-deployment training the first of August and then it's off to Iraq in the early fall to work with the judge advocate combat sustainment command brigade. His tour is expected to be about 270 days.
While Wallace is serving his country, senior judges from around Oregon will fill in for him on the bench.
"I should be back roughly sometime around the middle of next year," Wallace said.
His pre-deployment training will be in Southern California and at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said. This is his first deployment since he joined the National Guard more than 30 years ago. He will be the legal adviser to the brigade commander.
"I have had some short-term experience in Korea and Germany," Wallace said.
The unit Wallace will work with was out of Tacoma until about a month ago. He said its sister unit is from Southern California, which the unit being deployed to Iraq. Because of its sister-relationship, the California unit is being filled with Tacoma guardsmen.
Wallace's unit will provide logistics and support for the forward operation bases in Iraq. While Wallace said the area he will be in will be fairly safe, the worst part is being separated from his family. He does expect some leave during the year, however.
"I will miss my daughter's senior year in high school and my son's freshman year in high school," Wallace said.
Despite his absence, there will be no interruption in the court's activity, he said.
Wallace was elected to the bench in 1993 and has been in the National Guard and Reserves since 1972.
"It's going to be a beneficial and challenging experience. I've been getting in shape, so in that sense, it's been beneficial," he said with a laugh.