National Guard unit returns home from Afghanistan

Members of the California National Guard are returning home from a 10 month tour in Afghanistan.

November 20, 2009 7:51:10 PM PST
Members of the California National Guard are returning home from a 10 month tour in Afghanistan. Members of the 235th Engineering Company arrived Friday at their headquarters in Petaluma.

The 235th Engineering Company is one of the most decorated in California. The 120 members of the company have been in Afghanistan clearing bombs from roads in the eastern part of the country.

The bus carrying 14 members of the 235th engineering company was met with hugs and kisses when it rolled in Friday afternoon.

Sergeant Fred Coglizer says the worst part of his 10 months was missing the first year of his daughters life.

Members of the company talked to ABC7 about what was a very tough 10 months. More than half the 120 soldiers were awarded the Purple Heart for injuries they received while clearing improvised explosive devices.

"We went into it knowing what we were getting into it was our job, route clearance, we go and find IED's, you go in knowing that it's an accepted risk," Coglizer said.

Coglizer believes the United States can prevail. Rusty Chambers of Corning thinks the situation is deteriorating.

"I think it's getting worse, I feel sorry for the guys that took over for us because we doubled the IEDs that the last guys found," Chambers said.

Benjamin Winchester of Redding says he would hate to see more American soldiers going to Afghanistan. This was his second trip over.

ABC7: "More guys injured on this tour than your first one?"

Winchester: "Yes."

ABC7: "More bombs?"

Winchester: "Oh yes, much more, we found more IEDs in the first few months than the previous deployment, so it's definitely stepped up."

Winchester says the Taliban is making a push to take back the country and making headway against them is difficult.

"It hard to change tribal rule, I mean I think maybe they don't have a sense of unity as we do here in America, we think of ourselves as one, they're still factioned into their own tribal regions," he said.

Eliminating tribal infighting and getting Afghans to think of themselves as belong to one nation is one of the biggest challenges, Winchester said.

He said the hardest part of his 10 months in country was watching his friends get injured.

The best part? Everyone agreed -- being with your buddies.


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