Sgt. Jun Ramirez, left, Pvt. Burton Moore and Pfc. Savali Sunia are among the 150 members of the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade who will be deployed to Iraq for a year.

More isle reservists
to head to Iraq

The Army Reserve's 322nd Brigade
will be deployed for a year

For Savali Sunia the Army Reserve and deployment to Iraq is a family affair.

Her uncles -- Staff Sgt. Falanitoa Sunia and Sgt. Fiti Sunia -- and cousins -- Spc. C.J. Chung, Sgt. Filo Malvia and Spc. Hana Seloti -- are members of the 100th Battalion and have been in Iraq since Feb. 27 with the 29th Brigade Combat Team.

Sunia's uncle Falanitoa Sunia advised her "to be strong, to be brave and continue to pray as we have been taught to do in our family" as she prepares for a year of combat duty in Iraq.

Sunia, 21, has been a member of the Pacific Army Reserve's 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade for only the past two years. She, along with 150 members of her unit, was mobilized this week and will spend the next three weeks at Schofield Barracks in pre-deployment training.

Lt. Col. Marty Nelson, one of two dozen mainland soldiers assigned to the Fort Shafter-based Army Reserve unit, said the unit will then be sent to Camp Roberts in California for more training before it faces its final evaluation and certification at Fort Bragg, N.C., before being posted in Iraq in June.

Nelson, 43, said the 322nd will be assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps and be working in Baghdad as members of Task Force 351.

This will be the first time the brigade deploys as a unit, although its members participated in the 1991 Gulf War and were deployed to Bosnia, Bangladesh and East Timor in 1998.

The 150 citizen soldiers will join the 3,416 Army reservists and Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers already on active duty. Several of them, including members of the Pacific Army Reserve's 411th Combat Engineer Battalion and the Hawaii Army National Guard's 193rd Aviation Regiment, have completed a year's combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nationwide, the total number of National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been mobilized is 180,776.

The 322nd deployment means Sunia, a 2001 Roosevelt High School graduate, will have to interrupt her education at Kapiolani Community College, where she is a first-year nursing student.

Likewise, Sgt. Jun Ramirez, 22, has to forgo his junior year at Hawaii Pacific University, where he is pursuing a degree in political science.

Ramirez, a 2000 Pearl City High School graduate, said his friends in the 411th, which just returned from a year in Baghdad, have advised him to "watch out for IEDs (improvised explosive devices)."

"They also told me watch for the corners, to watch my back and to watch your buddy's back, and to remember your training," Ramirez said.

Pvt. Burton Moore, 20, had to place a career in real estate on hold for a year. His job now is as a computer maintenance specialist with the 322nd.

Moore, a 2002 Waianae High School graduate, is one of several Army reservists who were plucked out of another Hawaii Army Reserve unit to fill vacancies in the 322nd.

"It was a blessing of sorts," Moore said. "I always wanted to do something like this. It is something the Army has trained me to do."

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