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Nicole Napoleon leans on the shoulder of her husband, Spc. Richard Napoleon, of the Guam Army National Guard’s 1st 294th Infantry Battalion, Alpha Company, as he holds son Rylan, 4. Partially obscured by his mother is the couple’s other son, Tyler, 11.

Nicole Napoleon leans on the shoulder of her husband, Spc. Richard Napoleon, of the Guam Army National Guard’s 1st 294th Infantry Battalion, Alpha Company, as he holds son Rylan, 4. Partially obscured by his mother is the couple’s other son, Tyler, 11. (Frank Whitman / Special to S&S)

Guam’s Army National Guard on Friday recognized 180 of its own who returned from deployment in Iraq, Kuwait and the Horn of Africa during 2005.

The community was invited to the University of Guam field house where the soldiers and their families were addressed by local leaders and presented with mementos.

“Over the years, we have not done the best job of recognizing soldiers and servicemembers in general for their service,” said Maj. General Donald Goldhorn, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard. “So this is a way to publicly thank them and their families for what they have done.”

Speakers for the evening were Goldhorn, Guam Gov. Felix Camacho and Frank Blas, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. Guam Congressional Representative Madeleine Bordallo appeared via a video presentation.

Of the soldiers recognized, the bulk were members of 1st 294th Infantry Battalion, Alpha Company, who were deployed to the Horn of Africa for more than a year.

“That was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” said Spc. Michael Doyle. “I think it was 145 degrees when we arrived.”

Doyle left behind his wife, Nerissa, and three young children.

“It was hard with him being away for so long,” said Nerissa Doyle, adding that she worried about her husband constantly. “There were a lot sleepless nights.”

Others recognized were 12 members of the 1st 294th Infantry Battalion Services Detachment, Transportation, who wore Combat Action Badges for coming under fire while serving as truck drivers in Iraq.

Five members of the 294th Military Intelligence Detachment and four soldiers with the Medical Command of the Guam Army National Guard spent a year in Iraq.

Following the speeches, soldiers were called on stage by name and presented with an encased flag, a commemorative coin, a Defender of Freedom certificate and a lapel pin. They also were given an insignia pin for spouses and a “Future Soldiers” kit with games and other goodies for their children.

The ceremony’s recurring theme was the informal but meaningful recognition that Alpha Company received during its deployment.

“What fills me with pride is the comments I hear from our active-component brethren who say they are meeting the test and doing the job,” Goldhorn said.

Soldiers in the field also commented on Alpha Company’s teamwork and cohesiveness, Spc. Brian Leon Guerrero said.

“We’re family,” he said. “We all come from the same place. We rely on each other, and that was noticed by other units. It’s professionalism and discipline, and that’s what’s helping us to stop the spread [of] terrorism.”

E-mail Frank Whitman at: whitmanguam@yahoo.com.


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