855th heading home
D'Arci Carll has dealt with a 13-month separation from her husband, so she can handle waiting another few weeks for him to come home to Yuma from National Guard duty in Iraq.
But just barely.
"I'm just so excited right now," Carll said. "I'll probably cry when I see him, it's been such a long time."
Arizona Army National Guard spokeswoman Major Eileen Bienz said the 855th Military Police Co. and its 55 Yuma-area soldiers are scheduled to return home within the month.
"They're expected to return by the end of March," Bienz said. "But right now it's still tentative, with a return date of 'on or about' that time."
"It doesn't seem real that it's finally happening," said Carll, whose husband works for the U.S. Border Patrol in El Centro. "For a while it seemed like it was never going to end."
The 855th and its 160 soldiers were mobilized on Feb. 7 and left for the Mideast from the Army's Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, in mid-March of last year.
At the time, Bienz said the Yuma-based detachment of the company was to be deployed for a full year, meaning the unit would actually have to serve 365 days of ground time in the "theater of operation."
Military police companies provide military police combat support to an assigned area of operations. This includes area security, convoy security and military law enforcement.
Also called up with the 855th, were approximately 120 soldiers of the Arizona Army National Guard's Tucson-based 2222nd Transportation Company, 170 soldiers from the 2220th Transportation Company headquartered in Flagstaff, and 60 members of the Phoenix-based 356th Signal Company. Those companies also have Yumans serving in them.
The 120 soldiers from the 2222nd, or "Four-Deuce," who have served in Iraq since April, are already home, having returned to Tucson in December.
As excited as she is that her husband's tour of duty is over, Carll said he and the rest of the unit's soldiers will first have to go through demobilization procedures at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and a homecoming ceremony at the main armory in Phoenix, where she plans to meet him, before coming to Yuma.
"I don't know how long that will take, but once he's actually here, I'll have him again," Carll said.
As far as what the couple's plan may be, Carll said she her husband told her he just wants to stay home for the first couple of days he's back.
"He told me he just wanted to sit on the couch, play with his daughter, watch a movie and have a steak," Carll said.
When Sgt. Michael Carll was called to duty, his daughter was just 11 months old. She now turns two on Friday.
Arnold Trujilo, whose niece Julie Zapata serves with the 855th, said he has spoken with his niece's mother recently, adding they are both anxiously awaiting her return.
"Her mother is very much looking forward to them reuniting," Trujilo said. "Julie told her that it was quite an experience."
Nine members of the 855th were injured in two separate incidents in late September when the Humvees they were riding in drove over roadside bombs. Eight of those injured were treated and returned to duty, while the ninth was airlifted to Germany for treatment.
In November, Mary Jesse Herrera, a 22-year-old Somerton resident serving in the company, was injured outside Fallujah when her unit was attacked.
Herrera, the niece of Somerton Justice of the Peace Manny Figueroa, had to have reconstructive surgery on her right arm after she was hit with small-arms fire, or shrapnel.
The 855 Military Police Company is one of the most highly utilized units in Arizonafor both state and federal missions, Bienz said.
In addition to being activated and deployed to Operation Desert Storm, during the prior 17 months, the unit was called-up to provide security at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in October 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks, was deployed to the Winter Olympics in Utah to provide security in January 2002, and called in to help evacuate Arizona citizens during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire.
Carll said the family members of other company members that she has spoken to throughout the deployment are all proud of the jobs the soldiers were doing.