Two Yuma soldiers deploying to Afghanistan
Two Yuma soldiers serving in the 819th Engineer Company (Sappers) of the Arizona Army National Guard are deploying to Afghanistan on Sunday.
The two soldiers are Spc. Taylor R. Russell and Spc. Antonio Medrano.
The Phoenix-based company consists of approximately 100 soldiers from all over Arizona, with other members from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington.
According to Sgt. Ed Balaban, of the Arizona Army National Guard public affairs office, every member of this unit has been deployed multiple times since 2001 in support of overseas contingency operations.
A send-off ceremony will be held at the Papago Park Military Reservation's Army Aviation Support Facility #1 (AASF#1), located at 5636 E. McDowell Road in Phoenix, at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Army Brig. Gen. Alberto C. Gonzalez, the assistant adjutant general and director of the Arizona Army National Guard, will be the presiding officer for this ceremony, which will include family members, friends, fellow soldiers and other well-wishers, including the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders.
Balaban said the company will first go to Fort Bliss, Texas, for about a month of advanced pre-deployment training.
While in Afghanistan, Balaban said the company’s primary mission will be to clear routes in support of coalition units. Route clearance includes the detection and neutralization of unexploded ordnance and/or improvised explosive devices, performance of mounted and dismounted operations, and area clearance.
More than 500 Arizona Army and Air National Guard members are still serving on federal active duty in Afghanistan and in other parts of the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and within the continental U.S. Over 9,700 have been called to federal active service since Sept. 11, 2001.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.