Fallon guardsmen show unity | NevadaAppeal.com

Fallon guardsmen show unity

Steve Ranson
Members of the Nevada Army National Guard's 609th Engineer Company in Fallon shaved their heads to be in unity with 1st Lt. James Chandler, who is battling cancer. Back row from left are Cpl. Josh Killinger, Pvt. Jesse Berry, PFC Oscar Vega, Sgt. Adam Brayton, Spc. M. Krolikowski, Spc. Steven Herberlien and Spc. Randy Jackson. Front row from left are 1st Sgt. Jason Shipp, Spc. Mike Cristando, Cpl. Nick Cotham, Sgt. 1st Class Brian Dyer and Capt. Brett Eklund.

Sometimes the battle is waged at home — not on foreign soil thousands of miles away from the U.S. shores.

That’s what members of the Nevada Army National Guard’s 609th Engineer Company believe. A handful of guardsmen from the Fallon company shaved their heads last weekend in a show of unity for 1st Lt. James Chandler, one of the unit’s platoon leaders.

“He’s been fighting cancer since August,” said company commander Capt. Brett Eklund, one of the soldiers who had his head buzzed.

By the time Chandler discovered he had cancer, it was in stage 4 and had spread to other organs in his body. Since the Elko officer discovered he had cancer five months ago, Eklund said Chandler has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and will also undergo radiation treatment.

When Chandler received treatment last year for his cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City, Eklund said a small group of soldiers from the company traveled to Utah to see their comrade and to also promote him to first lieutenant.

Eklund said he and the unit have been “very engaged” with the family during Chandler’s ordeal.

“The sergeant major’s fund donated $500, and the unit raised out of pocket $350 for them,” Eklund said.

Eklund said Chandler’s family is appreciative of the company’s support.