Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers belonging to Bravo and Charley batteries of the 487th Field Artillery climbed into a window at Schofield Barracks' mock urban village yesterday as they prepared for a year-long assignment in Iraq.

Shiraishis set for
double duty in Iraq

Twin brothers train at
Schofield for their tour

Twin brothers, Spc. Cory and Sgt. Brandon Shiraishi, were recruited into the Hawaii Army National Guard four years ago by their father, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Shiraishi.

Now the 22-year-old brothers are going to war. And they are not sure if their father, a 30-year Hawaii Guard veteran, will join them in the year-long combat tour in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade.

"It's better we're going together," said Cory, the younger twin by seven minutes. "At least I know where my brother is."

The brothers say they like to do things together and were members of the baseball and rifle team at Kaimuki High School, where they graduated in 1999.

"Right now, I am all right," Cory said, "but as it gets closer, I guess it will hit me."

He acknowledged that his mother and other family members "might still be in shock" after his unit, which belongs to the 29th Infantry Brigade, was alerted on July 2. The unit must report to active duty on Aug. 16.

The twins were at Schofield Barracks' Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain training site yesterday with other members of the brigade's 487th Field Artillery Battalion relearning what it means to be an infantry soldier and how to fight in a city.

Sgt. Brandon Shiraishi and Spc. Cory Shiraishi enlisted together four years ago and will be sent to Iraq next year.

Yesterday, the soldiers were treated to the noise and confusion that accompany an operation such as storming a city, kicking down doors and climbing through windows while firing their M-16 rifles. Flash-bang simulators reverberated off the hollow-tile two-story buildings.

Brig. Gen. Joe Chaves, brigade commander who was monitoring the battalion's training, said these sessions are necessary since the unit, led by Lt. Col. Keith Tamashiro, will not be taking their artillery to Iraq. The majority of the unit's tour of duty in Iraq in Balad, north of Baghdad, will be occupied with infantry operations and security and convoy protection.

Chaves, 53, said he realized after talking with leaders of the Washington Army National Guard's 81st Brigade, which his unit will be replacing in February, that some of the deployment training requirements needed to be modified.

Chaves said brigade units from Oregon, Minnesota and California, with nearly 1,000 soldiers, will report to Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 19 while Pacific basin units will report to Fort Shafter. "But the training will be identical," Chaves added. "It will be basic soldier skills -- things like weapons qualification and NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) warfare."

The 2,500 soldiers from Hawaii and other citizen soldiers from Guam, American Samoa, Marianas and Saipan will fly to El Paso and join the mainland units in October. They will train together for the next two months before traveling to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., in January to be certified for combat, Chaves added.

Tamashiro, who in civilian life works for the state Department of Human Services, described the 400 soldiers in his battalion as being "very close."

Second Lt. Wayne Anno, 37, has been a member of the 487th for the past 20 years as an enlisted soldier. Last year, Anno, one of six Honolulu police officers assigned to the 487th, requested to be returned to the unit after he graduated from the Hawaii Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School.

"I thought we might be activated during the first Gulf War because they needed artillery units," Anno said. "We weren't, but I knew it was bound to happen because we are specially trained as an enhanced brigade."

Hawaii National Guard


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