Call to deploy worries families
Some are not happy reservists might have to go back to Iraq
Family members and Army Reserve soldiers of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, coped yesterday with the news that this may be the last Christmas they spend with loved ones before they deploy to the Middle East.
On Thursday, unit leaders began notifying about 600 members of the 442nd of the possible call-up to serve with the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team to provide security for U.S. installations in Kuwait.
"I'm kind of mad," said Chelsey Tachera, wife of 442nd Sgt. Alfred Tachera. "He just came back from Iraq, then he went to the Philippines, and now they might send him back (to Iraq)."
Sgt. Tachera, a 10-year Army Reservist, returned this month with 28 other members of the 100th Battalion from a six-month deployment to the Philippines. The soldiers were sent to the southern island of Jolo, a stronghold of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf.
"I want to expand my family, but I can't," said Chelsey. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter. "I don't want to do it without him here."
The battalion, whose motto is "Go for Broke," returned in 2006 from an 18-month tour in Iraq with the 29th Brigade. If they deploy this time, the soldiers are expected to be away from home for one year.
Staff Sgt. Keenan Lau, a veteran of Iraq, said he hadn't expected to deploy so soon. He said he was told the next deployment would be in five years.
Yesterday, he still was awaiting a call to notify him of the alert. He learned about the possible call-up through the media.
"I thought it was kind of quick, but it's the job and what you signed up for," he said.
"It kind of messes up the whole scheme of things," said the 25-year-old Nuuanu resident, who recently started a city job. "I just got my career started, so now I have to pause my life again and, if and when we go, start back up when we come back."
Others had expected a call to duty to come.
Cheryl Tanaka, mother of Sgt. Len Tanaka, said the battalion went with the 29th Brigade before, so it wasn't much of a surprise that the Reserve unit would go again.
"I'm not happy," she said. "I didn't think the deployment was going to come around this fast. But this is what he has to do. I support what he decides."
Sgt. Len Tanaka, the eldest of two children, also is a veteran of Iraq. For him, serving with the 442nd Infantry is a tribute to his grandfather, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II.
The 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, is famous as the mostly Japanese-American unit that fought in Europe during World War II.
"Even the first time he went to Iraq, he took my father-in-law's picture with him," Cheryl Tanaka said. "For him it's a duty to his own grandfather. He feels his grandfather would be proud."