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Nevada soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

STEVE RANSON
Nevada Appeal News Service
Steve Ranson/LVN photoSoldiers from the Nevada Army National Guard's Det. 1, C Company, 1st Battalion of the 168th General Support Aviation (MEDEVAC) were officially activated Wednesday for deployment to Afghanistan at the Army Aviation Support Facility north of Reno. The unit will leave Nevada in two weeks to train at Ft. Sill, Okla., before leaving for Afghanistan.
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RENO ” Alan Sharp had a feeling the call would come one day.

The Dayton sergeant, who is a medic in the Nevada Army National Guard, and 56 other soldiers were officially activated for deployment to Afghanistan on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Center north of Reno.

“We’re ready to get over there and support the soldiers,” he said prior to the

ceremony.

Sharp and 56 soldiers from the Guard’s Det. 1, C Company, 1st Battalion of the 168th General Support Aviation (MEDEVAC) will spend one year on active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Once in the country, the Nevada unit will link up with fellow soldiers from California and Wyoming. Nevada will ship six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to Afghanistan and keep one in the state for firefighting. The entire three-state company will have 15 helicopters providing medical support in Afghanistan.

Sharp will bring a wealth of civilian experience with him to Afghanistan. In his civilian job, Sharp is a firefighter and medic with the Central Lyon Fire District. Sharp and seven other medics left for additional training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, late Wednesday and will then join the rest of the unit at Fort Sill, Okla., in two weeks to hone their combat skills.

Most of the guardsmen in the detachment live in the Reno-Sparks area, Carson City, Minden, Dayton, Fernley and Fallon.

The 26-year-old Sharp has been in the military for nine years, the last five in the National Guard. Once he learned several months ago his unit would deploy, he began obtaining additional information on Afghanistan from the news and contacting friends who have already served there.

Brig. Gen Frank Gonzales, Commander of the Army Guard for Nevada, said the unit has a storied past in serving overseas missions. Although the unit had different names, the medical detachment served in Kosovo and then in Afghanistan in 2003 and at Fort Carson, Colo., in 2004.

“They will provide medical evacuation for friendly forces,” Gonzales said of their mission.

The detachment’s stateside missions have included humanitarian relief and firefighting.

Gonzales also thanked the families who attended the 45-minute ceremony.

“When the Nevada Guard mobilizes, so do the citizens of Nevada,” he said.

He also said family support groups will take care of the families while the soldiers are in Afghanistan.

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Kim LaBrie said the detachment is adding another distinction to the legacy it is building for Nevada. Although the unit’s name and designation have changed during the past 35 years, LaBrie said the unit is the same.

“It is Nevada’s medical detachment,” he said.

Capt. Darren Chrisman, detachment commander, said his soldiers are ready to get going after the necessary training.

“We have a couple of more things to finish up at Fort Sill,” he added.