Vol. 19,  No.  1 Jan. 12 - 25, 2006


Armory Unit Returns From Iraq


Members of the National Guard’s 145th Maintenance Unit returned home from Iraq on Dec. 29 after the company’s first overseas deployment. The unit, which is based out of the Kingsbridge Armory, spent the last 13 months fixing vehicles and air conditioners in the southern city of Nasiriya.

About 100 of the nearly 200 members returned to the Armory in buses arriving from Fort Dix, New Jersey, where they underwent a battery of medical testing. The unit is now deactivated and its men and women will return to their families and old jobs.

Members all expressed their relief to have returned safe and sound. “I’m just so glad to be back home,” said Specialist Carlos Perez of Brooklyn, after stepping off the bus. The soldier will return to his wife and his 10-month-old daughter, Alondra, who was born while he was in Iraq.

Specialist Xiomara “Sammie” Thomas kept her return a secret from her family, and surprised her son, Junior, by picking him up at school. “It was a nice reunion," said Thomas, a Van Nest resident.

In addition to their relief, some members expressed concern about the security of their benefits and medical coverage. Others wondered how much longer the company will be based at the Armory, since the city is trying to identify a new site for them in order to make way for the redevelopment of the facility.

But the dominant emotion was joy. “It feels pretty damn cool,” said Sergeant Chris Perkins, a staffer at Lehman College, about his unit’s return.

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