A Nevada Army National Guard aviation company is in its final days of preparation before leaving the state to begin its deployment process to Afghanistan this spring.
About 60 guardsmen, with about 20 percent of them living in the Carson City-Dayton area, have been honing their skills before Bravo Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion, conducts a formal mobilization ceremony in less than three weeks at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Stead.
Company commander, Capt. Michael Bordallo of Reno, said on Friday that the unit will perform missions such as transporting personnel and equipment and providing combat support.
"We definitely have a mix of veterans who have that saltiness, and new soldiers who have that enthusiasm and high interest," Bordallo said. "Together, it's a great combination."
The unit flies CH-47 helicopters and will fly six Chinooks to Fort Hood, Texas, later this month for mobilization training. Bordallo said Colorado will then assume control of the CH-47s when Bravo Company departs to Afghanistan to fly CH-47s left behind by the Hawaii Army National Guard.
This deployment will mark the second time since 2005 that this aviation company will deploy to Afghanistan. In January 2005, the unit formerly designated Company D of the 113 Aviation Battalion departed the AASF for training at Fort Sill, Okla., before heading overseas. Company D also endured the pains of war when insurgents shot down a CH-47 Chinook in late September 2005, killing all five aboard including two aviators from Nevada.
Bordallo, who served on active duty for four years before joining the Nevada National Guard in 2004, said his soldiers are looking forward to the deployment.
"We are going to do our mission and come home," Bordallo said.
Sgt. First Class Epifanio Rodarte, of Fernley, is one of the few guardsmen going on this tour who deployed seven years ago. During the previous months, Rodarte said the unit has trained at the U.S. Navy's Bravo 19 range south of Fallon and at a gunnery range in Utah to practice hover and door gunnery marksmanship.
Rodarte also said the longtime veterans know more of what to expect, but they are willing to help the newest soldiers.
"We have a lot of kids in our platoon," said Rodarte, the flight platoon sergeant.
Two of the first-time soldiers deploying to the war zone hail from Carson City.
Spc. William J. Frederick, a member of the Guard for two years, said this will be his first deployment. One of his major duties will be that of door gunner. "I volunteered to come over from a different unit to do this," he said of his mission.
The 2004 Carson High School graduate said everyone in the company is ready to deploy.
"We have a great bunch of people in this unit," he said.
Frederick said soldiers who have previously deployed to Afghanistan have been helpful with their knowledge and help.
Sgt. Jason Coleman, a 2001 Carson High School graduate, has served in the National Guard for six years. This will also be his first deployment to war zone. Previously, he said, he spent a five-month tour to Haiti to provide assistance after the 2010 earthquake.
He said serving in Haiti was invaluable experience.
"I does allow you to adapt faster to a foreign culture," he said.
Coleman will have dual duties in Afghanistan, one as a crew chief and the other as a supply noncommissioned-officer-in-charge (NCOIC) for Bravo Company. As a crew chief, Coleman said he will be responsible for the rear portion of the Chinook and also serve as a door gunner.