By Wendy Brown, USAG Fort Bliss Public Affairs:
(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 7, 2017)
Standing next to his wife Veronica and daughter Gaby, Sgt. Omar Morales, a medic assigned to the 410th Civil Affairs Battalion, couldn’t help but note the perfect timing of his recent return from a six-month deployment to Honduras.
“We were really blessed to be back for the holidays,” said Morales at a welcome home ceremony at the Stayton Theater here Sunday for himself and seven other Soldiers.
Soldiers assigned to the Army Reserve unit based in El Paso split up into teams of four. Civil Affairs Team 1051 went to Honduras, and Civil Affairs Team 1052 went to Guatemala, where each team participated in a civil affairs engagement program.
“For the last six months, these Soldiers have been doing incredible work to train, advise and assist our allies while securing our nation’s borders,” said Lt. Col. Brian S. Carey, commander, 410th Civil Affairs Battalion.
Carey said when he first joined the military 27 years ago, the role of the National Guard and the Army Reserve was much more reactive and did not have the same training mindset or capabilities as their active-duty counterparts, but that is no longer the case.
“The two civil affairs teams that deployed demonstrated beyond a doubt that the Army Reserve in general and the officers, noncommissioned officers and the Soldiers of the 410th Civil Affairs Battalion, specifically, represent the best and brightest of our military,” Carey said. “I could not be prouder of their hard work and the commitment from each service member’s family.”
Morales said the training he and his fellow Soldiers received at Fort Bliss before they left helped them immeasurably.
“It got us mentally ready for what was coming,” Morales said, adding that they practiced scenarios and became familiar with new equipment. “ … It was really good training. It got us prepared.”
Col. Dean Thompson, commander, 321st Civil Affairs Brigade, San Antonio, Texas, said civil affairs is all about building trust relationships, and the members of the 410th CA Bn. who deployed nailed their assignment.
“Thank you. It’s a grand slam. If we were playing baseball, you hit a grand slam home run out of the park,” Thompson said.
Thompson and Carey also praised the Soldiers’ families for their sacrifices during the deployment.
“Bills still needed to be paid, children continued to need supervision, dinner was required every night, birthdays were celebrated and family pets had to be corralled,” Carey said. “Life didn’t stop and neither did those families … Through this we thank you for your patience, commitment and your sacrifice.”
Morales, owner of the Eastside Barbershop on Lee Trevino Dr., said his wife, who works full time, also ran his business while he was away, and he is thankful. His daughter, 16, helped out at the shop on Saturdays.
“Everybody played a part to make it happen,” Morales said. “Like I say, when we leave, the family picks up the slack … Thank God that the military prepared us as a family, as a team, for them to be ready when this happens.”