FORWARD OPERATING BASE GARDEZ, Afghanistan, April 23, 2007 — Whether serving on active duty, Army Reserve or Army National Guard, deployments have become all but inevitable for soldiers in the U.S. Army.
|"[The enemy] doesn’t care if you’re in the National Guard or if you’re not on a combat mission."
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Rafferty
Some troops have seen more years in Iraq or Afghanistan than they have seen at their home station, while some soldiers are going through their first deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Regardless if a soldier is on their first or fourth deployment, war does not discriminate between them.
The soldiers of 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Connecticut National Guard are weeks away from completing their first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Alpha Company arrived at Forward Operating Base Gardez April 18, 2006, and was immediately put to work, said Army Sgt. John Julian, team leader, 1st Platoon, Company A.
Although this deployment is Julians first, he is no stranger to serving overseas for the military. Having spent eight years in the Marine Corps working with aircraft, Julian has seen duty in Japan, Australia, Alaska and Egypt.
Fort Worth, Texas, however, is one station he remembers above them all. This is where Julian was during the Sept. 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
I was pulling an ejection seat out of an F-16 fighter jet when the whole base went on lock down, he said. I was so [angry] something like that could happen on our own soil and immediately my thoughts went to my grandfather who enlisted in the infantry after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Immediately after the base was locked down, Julian remembers loading the same jet with live ordnance.
Julian tried to change jobs and join the infantry, but the Marine Corps wouldnt allow him because of how much money they had spent training him to work with aircraft.
When my service in the Corps was over, I went to the Army to see if they would let me join an infantry unit, Julian explained. I was able to join the [Conn. Natl. Guard] and then we came to Afghanistan.
Julian has no regrets about what he did and plans on re-enlisting in the Marines when he gets back to the U.S.
Im happy with what I did here, he continued. I served my country for a year and I enjoy life in the military.
No doubt there were some good times for Julian and his comrades, but those good times were not without some very hard ones.
Alpha Company was attached to a provincial reconstruction team upon arriving at Forward Operating Base Gardez. A PRTs mission is to facilitate the development of their assigned provinces through projects like the building of roads, schools and medical clinics.