Guard Soldiers Opt For 2nd Tour

January 20th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Guard Soldiers Opt For 2nd Tour

Honolulu Advertiser
January 19, 2007
By Treena Shapiro, Advertiser Staff Writer
A couple of years after returning from combat duty in Iraq or Kuwait, about 40 Hawai'i Army National Guard soldiers volunteered to deploy again this time to Afghanistan.
Yesterday, they left for Fort Bragg, N.C., along with 20 other soldiers who were being sent into harm's way for the first time.
But first, they had lunch with their families at the 29th Brigade Combat Team Headquarters in Kalaeloa where they helped themselves to a local-style buffet knowing that it could be more than a year before they eat ma-napua, sushi or chow mein again.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Mocada, 35, held his two daughters on his lap and sat close to his wife, Lara, before helping himself to food.
After deploying to Iraq in 2004, when his youngest daughter was only 6 weeks old, he said it was difficult to leave knowing that his wife will give birth to their third child in his absence.
"I'm a soldier. It's hard, but it's an obligation," he said, adding that his mission would include fighting to keep peace and freedom alive for his children.
Lara Mocada said she knew that her husband had planned to volunteer for another combat tour but was surprised that the soldiers were only given a month to prepare.
"I think I'm numb right now," she said yesterday. "I'm not going to feel it until he's gone again."
Spc. Charles Olivera Schmid, 29, went to the lunch without his family, who weren't thrilled that he had volunteered to deploy. The former Marine returned from a seven-month tour to Okinawa about 18 months ago.
It was easier back then, but now he has an 8-month-old daughter who could be about 2 years old by the time he comes back, depending on whether the deployment is a year or 18 months a question still up in the air under new deployment rules announced last week.
Second Lt. Eric Miyasato, 30, the only officer to volunteer for this deployment, said he decided to go to Afghanistan out of a sense of duty and a need to do his part.
He called on families to offer support for the soldiers. "Families, you are the lifeline for us guys," he said. "You families are going to keep us grounded, keep us going, keep us fighting."
Miyasato had a large extended family to see him off and said separating from them would probably be the most difficult part of the deployment. However, he expects the group of soldiers will come together as a family while in Afghanistan.
Luzette de la Pena said it was easier to let her 22-year-old son, Jachin, a specialist, go on his second tour. "The first time was harder," she said. "This time you know."
Jachin de la Pena's wife left on Wednesday to stay with family in Texas during his deployment and he hoped to be able to join her when she gives birth to their first child in July. "She didn't want me to go, but she supports me," he said.
That seemed to be the sentiment among many of the wives.
While some soldiers like Staff Sgt. Randy Tore, 39, joked that the tour would be a vacation and an opportunity to see more of the world, his wife, Jannet, was not amused. "For me, it's not too good ... but I can't say no because he volunteered," she said.
The Hawai'i soldiers will join soldiers from the Arizona National Guard to train Afghan Army and security forces.
About 2,200 citizen soldiers from Hawai'i have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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