Lahontan Valley News Editor Steve Ranson, one of the top military reporters in Nevada, leaves today for Afghanistan where he will spend two weeks writing about service men and women who trained in Northern Nevada and have deployed to Southwest Asia in support of this country's war on terrorism.
Ranson, who has covered the Nevada National Guard for more than three decades and Naval Air Station Fallon events on a regular basis for five years, is paying his own way in returning to Afghanistan. He spent three weeks there in 2011 telling the stories of Nevada guardsmen at Kandahar and Bagram air fields and the role of a carrier air wing that trained at Fallon and the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group sailing in the Arabian Sea. One of his many stories, on the high unemployment rate among Nevada guardsmen returning from Afghanistan, received national attention.
"With so many of our Nevada guardsmen deployed this year, I felt it was equally important to tell their stories and explain their missions to the people back home, just like I did a year ago with the 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion and 485th Military Police Company," said Ranson, a retired National Guard officer who never deployed to a war zone in 28 years of service.
Ranson will fly first to San Francisco and then to Dubai where he will take a flight directly to Bagram Air Field. Coincidentally, his flight is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11. He will then fly to a forward operating base to embed with Bravo Company of the 189th GSB Aviation, which includes many guardsmen from Fallon, Fernley, Carson City, Dayton, the Lake Tahoe region and Douglas County.
The following week, he leaves for Kabul to embed with the 593rd Transportation Company, which is providing security operations and convoys. The Reno-based transportation company represents the entire Silver State with detachments from Las Vegas, Elko and Winnemucca. He also will spend Thanksgiving with the troops, many of whom are away from their families for the first time on a holiday.
During this time overseas, Ranson will attempt to send daily dispatches to the Lahontan Valley News and its Facebook site and the Nevada Appeal. Scores of other websites also picked up his dispatches in 2011, reaching a potential audience of more than 100,000 people. Once he returns, Ranson's stories will provide a comprehensive look into the role of the two Nevada guard units and its soldiers in the war zone.