Reserve soldier seeks help for son before he leaves
A Mound House couple with 14 adopted children is looking for hard-to-find help for their 2-year-old son with special needs.
Merrill Simon, a lieutenant in the 1st Brigade of the 91st Division of Army Reserves, found out recently he will report for duty Jan. 2. His orders specified he would be taking part in a drill, but that he should come prepared to not return home soon.
“When I leave here on Jan. 2, there’s a chance I will not be coming back,” Simon said.
The 47-year-old computer specialist was issued a letter to give the Nevada Department of Transportation, where he has worked as a computer network technician for four years, in the event that he will be called for active duty.
Simon operates a workstation that runs computer-based battlefield simulations for training exercises and serves 11 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii. He has spent 28 years in the Army reserves and National Guard.
Roberta Simon said she is proud of her husband’s sense of duty, even though the commitment will leave her to care for nine children on her own. Each child has a special need, either physical or emotional.
Of the couple’s 14 children, 12 have been adopted and nine still are living at home.
“I’m really proud of (Merrill),” Roberta Simon said. “I think you need to be ready to go when your country needs you in whatever capacity, and I admire the commitment he has made.”
Simon said she and her husband are “like part of each other,” and she will miss him, even though she is used to taking care of the children during the day by herself.
“It’s a little harder to know he’ll be gone at night, too,” she said. Roberta and Merrill Simon share the chores, but they are definitely separated into “his” and “her” categories, she joked.
The most serious concern the couple has about Merrill Simon’s assignment is being able to care for their 2-year-old son, Joseph, who has difficulty breathing and has had a tracheotomy. The boy is up several times a night and needs to be monitored, a duty which they share.
An apparent shortage of area licensed and qualified nurses has the family worried about finding someone before Merrill Simon leaves.
His biggest worry about leaving is “being separated from the family and knowing that I’m not here if something goes wrong.”
The family has always found help when they needed it, though, they said.
“Whenever we’ve had our backs to a wall, we’ve had friends or the community come to help us,” Roberta Simon said.
Licensed nurses who are interested in working 32 hours a week for the Simon family from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. should call Celine Nugent at CORE Home Health at 829-4448.
National Guard units get marching orders
Two Nevada Army National Guard units at Stead are preparing for deployment overseas, military officials said Thursday.
Detachment 1, 126th Medical Co., Air Ambulance has been notified of its mobilization in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the war on terrorism in the Southeast Asian Theater, said Maj. Gen. Giles Vanderhoof, Nevada adjutant general.
The unit will deploy about 15 soldiers, two new UH-60 Blackhawk medical evacuation helicopters, its parent unit’s four aircraft and approximately 25 soldiers from Sacramento, Calif.
National Guard’s Detachment 1, 69th Press Camp Headquarters, has received mobilization order for deployment to an undisclosed location in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
An undisclosed number of the unit’s members, which include some from Carson City, will be deployed, officials said.
The Press Camp Headquarters is a military public-affairs unit that includes specialists trained to conduct military briefings, escort news reporters, and provide information for publications and TV and radio broadcasts. The unit is headed to the Southwest Asia Theater.
The detachment’s parent unit is in Fairfield, Calif.
The air ambulance unit recently was redesignated from Detachment 1, 717th Medical Co. It was deployed in Kosovo from October 2001 through May 2002.
“Our guys were able to assist during some combat situations” in Kosovo, said National Guard spokeswoman April Conway in Carson City.
“There was a train accident, and they were able to Medivac some people out. They transported people to both military and civilian hospitals.”
“This unit is the epitome of professionalism,” Vanderhoof said. “They’ve been so busy over the past two years with specialized training and their Kosovo deployment. Getting tapped again to deploy is an honor as well as a challenge. I couldn’t be more proud of the job they’ve been doing, and I couldn’t ask for a better representation of Nevada than these soldiers.”
The selection of the soldiers from the unit was based on combat and civilian experience. The unit includes veterans from Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Joint Guardian mission in Kosovo, military officials said.